Cultural Playing Field

Developing opportunity and excellence by Robin Simpson
November 28, 2008, 10:53 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


On Wednesday I was at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in London for the second meeting of the Opportunity and Excellence Programme Board. This Board, chaired by DCMS Director General Andrew Ramsay, brings together the Chief Executives of Arts Council England, Sport England, English Heritage, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and the National Museum Director’s Conference with the relevant DCMS Directors to oversee progress against the DCMS Departmental Strategic Objectives relating to cultural opportunities and excellence. This time we concentrated on developing adult participation, looking at current initiatives to increase the numbers of people taking part in cultural activities and discussing what more could be done. Paul Raynes from the Local Government Association has joined the Board to help us look at how best to involve local authorities in this work. We discussed the suggestion that while the recession might reduce cultural attendance, it might actually encourage more participation in local cultural activities. We also agreed the importance of co-ordinating the drive to increase cultural participation with similar initiatives from other Government departments – such the work on informal adult learning at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the focus on increasing volunteering by the Office of the Third Sector. As well as being a Departmental Strategic Objective for DCMS, the work to develop adult participation in cultural activities also contributes to the cross-departmental Public Service Agreement on Cohesive, Empowered and Active Communities (PSA 21) which DCMS shares with the Department for Communities and Local Government. I was encouraged to see that the official DCMS PSA 21 Delivery Plan now includes the following reference to the voluntary arts: 

“‘Our Creative Talent: the voluntary and amateur arts in England’ was launched at a conference on 2 July and represents the first step towards developing a comprehensive understanding of the size, make up and impact of the voluntary arts sector in England. It considers two key aspects – voluntary and amateur arts groups and the importance of the informal adult learning sector to arts participation. Headline statistics show there to be over 49,000 voluntary and amateur Arts groups in England and a total of 9.4 million people participate in voluntary arts. We are currently working alongside ACE, the Voluntary Arts Network and other stakeholders to draw up an Action Plan to follow up on the report and further work undertaken with the sector.” [Department for Culture, Media and Sport, PSA 21 – Active Communities, Delivery Plan]

Robin Simpson.

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