Cultural Playing Field

First Arts Council England Amateur Arts Forum by Robin Simpson
April 23, 2009, 5:04 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Monday I was in London to attend the first Arts Council England Amateur Arts Forum meeting which brought together ACE senior staff with representatives of several music, visual arts and crafts umbrella bodies. A packed agenda – generated by the participants – allowed umbrella bodies to raise a wide range of issues including: the contribution arts participation makes to ‘wellbeing’; funding opportunities for voluntary arts groups via Grants for the Arts following the demise of the Awards for All scheme; possible solutions to the perennial lack of availability of suitable venues for voluntary arts groups through the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ and ‘empty spaces in town centres’ initiatives and much more. It was a fascinating, thoughtful and constructive discussion which saw the umbrella body representatives and ACE officers working together to try to address the various issues. At the end of the meeting there was an enthusiastic consensus that this felt like the start of a very positive new ongoing dialogue. One umbrella body representative said: “I am taking away a lot of heart: for once it seems you [Arts Council England] are taking the amateur seriously.” There will be two further Amateur Arts Forum meetings later this year, focussing on other artforms and general issues for the sector.

Robin Simpson.

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