Cultural Playing Field


Learning Revolution Expo by Robin Simpson
October 8, 2009, 2:28 pm
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On Tuesday I was at the Learning Revolution Expo event at Old Spitalfields Market in London. Paul and I were running ‘Zone 2 – taking action’ which focused on issues relating to self-organising groups of learners. It was a fascinating day and a very innovative format which encouraged some high quality networking. We made lots of useful contacts and came away quite inspired. It was encouraging to see the Further Education Minister Kevin Brennan there to formally launch the Learning Revolution Festival and to have a video message from Lord Mandelson emphasising the importance the Government attaches to informal adult learning. And it was great to see two of our new freelance facilitators, Matthew Burge and Wendy Smithers.

Robin Simpson.



DCMS Opportunity & Excellence Programme Board by Robin Simpson
October 8, 2009, 2:24 pm
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On Monday I was in London to attend a meeting of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Opportunity & Excellence Programme Board. This Board brings together Arts Council England, Sport England, English Heritage, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the National Museum Directors’ Council, the Voluntary Arts Network and the Local Government Association with DCMS Directors to oversee progress against two of the Department’s four Departmental Strategic Objectives (DSOs). DSO1 relates to the levels of public engagement in the DCMS sectors – including arts attendance, arts participation, sports participation, visitors to museums etc. We had an interesting discussion on Monday about the effects of the recession on engagement. The DSO1 target focuses on raising the proportion of the population that engages with the various sectors rather than the total number of people participating (which would include foreign tourists and repeat visitors). We also did some further work on an initial basket of indicators to track progress against DSO2 which seeks to increase ‘excellence’ across the DCMS sectors.

Robin Simpson.



‘Volunteering and London 2012’ symposium by Robin Simpson
October 2, 2009, 8:15 am
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I was in London on Wednesday to take part in the ‘Volunteering and London 2012’ symposium, organised by Volunteering England. This event brought together volunteering agencies and voluntary sector infrastructure organisations from across the UK. We heard from David Huse, Head of Volunteering at LOCOG, about the latest plans for recruiting, training and managing the 70,000 games-time volunteers needed to help run the Olympic and Paralympic Games: the application process for these volunteers (including volunteer performers for the ceremonies) will be launched in summer 2010. We then had a presentation from the Government Olympic Executive about plans for a social legacy marketing plan: the ‘big idea’ is to use London 2012 to inspire participation in volunteering, culture, sport, education and more, across the UK. There will be a campaign to inspire the whole of the country to give time to their local communities. A creative agency has just been appointed and the campaign will be launched in early 2010. We also heard from the Volunteer Development Agency in Northern Ireland, Volunteer Development Scotland and Greater London Volunteering about the progress of their 2012 volunteering initiatives – including the ‘People Making Waves’ programme in Scotland which includes Voluntary Arts Scotland’s ‘Make a Splash’ project. The symposium was followed by a second meeting of the London 2012 Volunteering Legacy Stakeholder Advisory Group where we specifically focussed on the Volunteering England/YouthNet project which is expanding the national volunteering database (do-it.org.uk) to include a wide range of opportunities catalysed by London 2012.

Robin Simpson.



Department of Culture, Media and Sport Third Sector Forum meeting by Robin Simpson
October 2, 2009, 8:04 am
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Our main focus this time was the impact of the recession on the third sector. The consensus was that the main effect to date has been on matched funding. In the short term it seems as if the recession has encouraged a significant growth in levels of volunteering. The real impact on public sector funding is likely to be in 2 – 3 years time. In this context it’s going to be important for us to look at how the third sector can best support DCMS negotiations with The Treasury ahead of the next Comprehensive Spending Review. The other subject on this week’s Third Sector Forum agenda was to discuss the implementation of the new DCMS Third Sector Strategy. It will be a key function of the Forum to monitor the progress of the strategy over the coming year.

Robin Simpson.



England Volunteering Development Council meeting by Robin Simpson
October 2, 2009, 8:01 am
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EVDC is always a great networking opportunity, bringing together a wide range of volunteering infrastructure and volunteer-involving organisations. At the last two meetings we have been discussing the future role of EVDC – its functions, membership and administration. While there is a danger of doing too much navel-gazing, it has been helpful to revisit the purpose of these meetings. We also heard this week about the progress of the Association of Volunteer Managers, which has just had its second AGM, and about the Volunteering England/British Red Cross fringe events at the main political party conferences.

Robin Simpson.