Last Thursday and Friday I was in Utrecht at the annual meeting of Amateo – the European Network for Active Participation in the Arts. A year after launching the network in Ljubljana the Board has registered Amateo as a company in Belgium, developed contacts and links with other European networks and planned activities for the coming years. Amateo now has 18 member organisations in 12 European countries (including Voluntary Arts and Making Music in the UK). The annual meeting included presentations on European Union cultural policy and funding opportunities from Culture Action Europe and Haute Equipe. The highlight, for me, was the Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven talking about the different ‘qualities’ of amateur musicians and why he prefers working with amateur orchestras. At the Amateo AGM we agreed that the network’s priority for the coming year will be to collate existing statistics and research to build a picture of the overall levels of participation in the arts across Europe. Aled Rhys Jones will continue to represent Voluntary Arts on the Amateo Board and I look forward to watching progress over the next twelve months before the network meets again in Denmark in June 2010.
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