On Wednesday I was back at DCMS to attend the first meeting of the new Participation and Excellence Programme Board. The purpose of this group is to oversee the department’s progress against its targets on cultural opportunities and participation and encouraging excellence. Chaired by DCMS Director General Andrew Ramsay, the Board comprises three DCMS Directors and the Chief Executives of five Non Departmental Public Bodies (Arts Council England, English Heritage, Sport England, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the National Museum Director’s Conference) and me. It’s wonderful that the importance of the voluntary arts is now being recognised to this extent and very exciting to be part of this new Board. Our first meeting was largely a progress report on existing DCMS initiatives relating to participation and excellence. I look forward to helping to develop further how the voluntary arts sector could be involved in these and future activities.
On Tuesday I was at the Department for Media, Culture and Sport in London to meet the new Director of Culture, Mick Elliott. Mick, who previously ran the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, replaces Alan Davey who left DCMS to become Chief Executive of Arts Council England. We talked about the ‘Our Creative Talent’ research commissioned by DCMS and ACE and the joint conference we ran at the Barbican at the beginning of July. We also discussed the ‘Find Your Talent’ scheme and the work DCMS is doing in relation to the McMaster excellence agenda and how the voluntary arts might best get involved in these.
On Thursday I was in London to meet Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO. Stuart is working on developing NCVO’s civil society agenda and is having a series of one-to-one meetings with organisations representing independent schools, co-operatives, housing associations, trade unions, universities etc. Having discussed the role of sports clubs in civil society with Tim Lamb from the Central Council for Physical Recreation, he was keen to have a similar conversation with me about voluntary arts groups. This fits well with VAN’s own vision of “an empowered, participative, fulfilled and healthy civil society” and it was great to hear that Stuart sees the voluntary arts as a key component of civil society. It will be interesting to see how far NCVO can take the idea of a more collaborative approach to developing civil society in the period leading up to the next general election.
On Tuesday evening I was at the Barbican in London for the pre-conference reception hosted by the Carnegie (UK) Trust. Kate Braithwaite, Chief Executive of the Carnegie Rural Commission, welcomed delegates and Voluntary Arts staff gave examples of the organisation’s activities across the UK and Ireland. The talking was interspersed with some excellent voluntary arts performances including madrigal singers, drummers, drama, storytelling and a chamber choir.
The formal proceedings concluded with the launch of the new Voluntary Arts England publication ‘Edutainment: the benefits of arts and crafts in adult and community learning’ – a collection of case studies edited by Paul Devlin. Susanna Reid (from the BBC1 Breakfast programme) interviewed Professor John Benyon (Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Leicester) who wrote the forward to ‘Edutainment’ about lifelong learning and the arts and crafts. Guests then enjoyed the last few hours of the hottest day of the year eating, drinking and networking in the delightful surroundings of the Barbican Conservatory – “a hidden tropical oasis in the heart of the city”. We are enormously grateful to the Carnegie (UK) Trust for supporting an inspirational and entertaining event and to everyone who helped to make it such a memorable evening.
Filed under: meetings | Tags: ace, arts, DCMS, excellence, heritage, vcs, volarts
On Monday I was in London to chair a meeting of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (acevo) Arts, Culture & Heritage Special Interest Group. Gail Robinson from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport joined us to discuss the department’s Third Sector Strategy. The new version of the strategy is going to focus on six themes: recognition, voice, the compact, accessing support, social enterprise and local authorities. We agreed that voluntary and community sector organisations in the arts, culture and heritage are often not perceived as part of the third sector but also tend not to see themselves as part of the third sector, thereby missing out on substantial available support. We also discussed mechanisms for DCMS to engage with the acevo Special Interest Group on a regular basis and talked again about the Charity Commission consultation on fee charging. Finally I reported back to the group about the DCMS/Arts Council England seminar on Excellence and the Voluntary Arts on 4 June, which had arisen as a result of the Special Interest Group’s meeting with Culture Minister Margaret Hodge in January.