Cultural Playing Field


Voluntary cultural sector alliance by Robin Simpson
December 17, 2008, 11:21 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was back in London on Tuesday for a regular meeting of my voluntary cultural sector alliance – with CCPR and Heritage Link. We were joined by Louisa Darian from NCVO and, as usual, covered a wide and varied range of topics. We are all concerned about the potential detrimental effect on small, local, cultural groups of the ending of the Awards for All lottery grant scheme. We discussed the possible effects of the recession on our sectors – both in relation to the local groups we support and their national membership organisations. Heritage Link is naturally pre-occupied with the dropping of the Heritage Protection Bill from the Queen’s Speech: having spent eight years working on this, there is now little prospect of the proposed legislation being implemented. We also talked about NCVO’s Funding Commission, which is to be launched in January, and the importance of ensuring it considers funding for cultural voluntary and community sector organisations.

Robin Simpson. 

Advertisements


Progressing the action plan for the voluntary arts in England by Robin Simpson
December 12, 2008, 4:56 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , ,

This afternoon Reemer and I attended a further meeting with officers from ACE and DCMS to discuss the progress in the development of the ACE voluntary arts action plan. We spent some time discussing when we might be able to publicly launch the action plan – given that some of the actions have already started but others are still being defined. We agreed to work towards making the plan public by February 2009. We also agreed the details of the regular consultative meetings proposed by the action plan between ACE and representatives of the voluntary arts sector. These meetings will give the sector active involvement in policy development and the ACE public engagement campaign. There will be an annual senior-level forum in June, chaired by the ACE Chief Executive, to monitor progress on and current barriers to effective partnership working between the sector, Local Government and ACE. There will also be six-monthly meetings focusing on particular art-forms which will bring together voluntary arts umbrella bodies and the art-form and cross-cutting directors in the ACE National Arts Strategy Team to discuss emerging policy and its impact on the development of the amateur sector. There is some really exciting potential emerging from the voluntary arts action plan and the next few months promise some major developments in the sector’s relationship with Arts Council England.

Robin Simpson.



DCMS Voluntary and Community Sector Forum meeting by Robin Simpson
December 12, 2008, 4:54 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been back in London again today to attend the DCMS Voluntary and Community Sector Forum meeting. We started with a discussion about the economic downturn and its impact on the voluntary and community sector within the DCMS remit. So far the department’s research shows relatively minor impact on attendances and visitor numbers but considerable risks in relation to local authorities cutting spending. We then heard about work DCMS is undertaking to identify ways to strengthen philanthropy and private sector support from individuals, business supporters, trusts and foundations. Currently, only 4% of total charitable giving finds its way into the cultural sector. Adam Terry from the Government Olympic Executive updated us on the 2012 Olympics volunteering programme and told us of plans for a Volunteering Summit to be held in early 2009. We looked in detail at the draft new DCMS Third Sector Strategy and talked, particularly, about setting specific targets around the role of the VCS Forum. Finally we heard an update on changes to the DCMS regional infrastructure: the Regional Cultural Consortia are to be abolished from March 2009 to be replaced by new arrangements involving better co-ordination and partnership between the four DCMS Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) with a regional presence (Arts Council England, Sport England, English Heritage and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council). The detailed plans for these new arrangements are to be agreed by the four NDPB Chief Executives at the end of January. 

Robin Simpson.



Community Sector Coalition meeting by Robin Simpson
December 12, 2008, 9:32 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

I was back in London on Thursday to attend a meeting of the Community Sector Coalition. We were joined by Angus McCabe from the new Third Sector Research Centre. The Third Sector Research Centre is being jointly hosted by the University of Southampton and the University of Birmingham. It is funded for five years by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Office of the Third Sector and the Barrow Cadbury Trust. The centre will be running a number of research programmes to build an evidence base for the third sector, looking at the theoretical and policy context, mapping and measuring the sector, assessing impact and looking specifically at social enterprises. Angus’s focus is on ‘below the radar’ organisations – including small community organisations. I asked him how his work would help voluntary arts groups and he acknowledged that, while the arts, culture and leisure forms approximately 30% of the third sector, it has always been fairly marginal to the rest of the sector. He was keen to address this in his research and invited me to discuss this further with him. Among many other topics, we discussed how changes to the ‘Awards for All’ Lottery grant scheme might adversely affect small community groups, the introduction of the new Grassroots Grants scheme and applications to the Department for Communities and Local Government Empowerment Fund. 

Robin Simpson.



Further thinking about infrastructure organisations by Robin Simpson
December 12, 2008, 9:17 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

On Wednesday I was at NCVO in London for the second of a series of meetings about how NCVO could work more effectively with voluntary and community sector infrastructure organisations. It now looks as if there are more than 1000 infrastructure organisations within NCVO’s membership – including national, regional, generic, specialist and functionalist infrastructure. As we continue to develop ideas about how NCVO could better connect with such organisations within its membership, we were keen to emphasise that any approach must be based on mutuality and reciprocity – not just looking paternalistically at how NCVO can benefit from developing better relationships, but rather at how the relevant organisations can work in partnership towards shared goals.  

Robin Simpson.



Supporting self-organising learning by Robin Simpson
December 10, 2008, 12:19 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

On Monday I was at the Imperial War Museum in London to attend a round-table meeting organised by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. The Department’s Informal Adult Learning consultation earlier this year elicited 5500 formal responses and is likely to result in a Green or White Paper in January 2009. This was one of a series of events to look in detail at the proposals to be launched in January. The theme of Monday’s round-table was ‘supporting self-organising learning’ – ie groups of people who come together to organise their own informal learning, including voluntary arts groups. The rationale is that self-organised learning helps develop civil society and supports social cohesion and DIUS is looking at how to join up support from a range of Government departments for such activity – whilst stressing that this is not about trying to reduce or shift existing funding. We looked in detail at how to ‘signpost’ people to this wide range of learning opportunities, better support for groups – particularly in relation to the spaces they need in which to operate and other major barriers to the development of self-organising groups including insurance, licensing issues etc. There is clearly great potential for more coherent Government support to voluntary arts groups across the relevant Government departments and I look forward to seeing the final proposals from DIUS in January. 

Robin Simpson.



Meeting the new Arts Council of Wales Chief Executive by Robin Simpson
December 5, 2008, 3:13 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

Today I have been at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff to meet Nick Capaldi, the new Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales. Nick knows the Voluntary Arts Network well from his time as Executive Director of Arts Council England, South West. I first met him at The British Federation of Festivals conference in Bristol in 1997 when, as Music Officer of South West Arts, he shared a platform with the VAN Chief Executive, Roger Fox. Nick has always been sympathetic to the needs of the voluntary arts and it was very encouraging to find him prepared to set aside time, early in his new job at ACW, to talk to us about Voluntary Arts Wales and how we can work together to promote participation in the arts and crafts. We covered a wide range of topics including the need to map the voluntary arts sector in Wales, how we might work more strategically with umbrella bodies and the role of the arts within the wider voluntary sector.

Robin Simpson.