Cultural Playing Field

Meeting the National Federation of Women’s Institutes by Robin Simpson
November 19, 2008, 5:28 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

One of the most interesting findings (and one that I had not anticipated) of the DCMS/ACE research, ‘Our Creative Talent: the voluntary and amateur arts in England’, was the significant proportion of the total number of ‘voluntary arts groups’ represented by groups whose prime purpose is not necessarily arts activity but who nevertheless undertake considerable arts participation across a number of disciplines. While the Voluntary Arts Network has been very good at providing advice and information to choirs, amateur dramatic groups, craft guilds etc, the research suggests we could do more to support arts activity by more general community organisations. With this in mind, on Monday I went to see Fay Mansell and Jana Osborne, the Chair and General Secretary of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. NFWI represents more than 6500 Women’s Institutes, many of whom engage regularly in a variety of crafts or organise concerts. We talked about the dissemination of VAN Briefings to WIs and how NFWI might draw on the expertise of the national voluntary arts umbrella bodies. I was particularly interested in how we might encourage occasional arts participants inspired by their WI experiences to consider joining or setting up local voluntary arts groups. We agreed that NFWI would help to promote the new ‘Directory of amateur arts and crafts’ being created by the Voluntary Arts Link team. I also agreed that VAN would be happy to advise NFWI on the major celebratory event planned to mark the movement’s centenary in 2015.

Robin Simpson.

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