Cultural Playing Field


ACE Arts Nation External Advisory Board by Robin Simpson
July 8, 2010, 4:54 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

I was back in London on Thursday to take part in the first meeting of the new External Advisory Board for Arts Council England’s ‘Arts Nation’ public engagement campaign. The campaign was postponed as part of the recent ACE cuts but is still due to go ahead, with the launch now scheduled for September 2011. The External Advisory Board brings together about 25 representatives of arts organisations and other stakeholders including the South Bank Centre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sage Gateshead, London Symphony Orchestra, Audiences Central, Culture Liverpool and Voluntary Arts. At our first meeting we started to look at how Arts Nation might get organisations across the arts spectrum (very definitely including the amateur arts) to collaborate to encourage greater levels of arts engagement, attendance and participation. It was an encouraging start, with many people emphasising the importance of participation and the need to involve small, community groups within the campaign.

Robin Simpson.



Participation Manifesto development group meeting by Robin Simpson
July 8, 2010, 4:47 pm
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On Wednesday afternoon Mary and I were at the headquarters of Mencap in London for a meeting of the Arts Participation Manifesto development group, at which we welcomed David Brownlee, Chief Executive of Audiences UK, who has joined the development group. In a wide-ranging, passionate and intense discussion, we discussed whether, in the current financial and political climate, the focus of the group’s work should now be about explaining the value of arts participation and helping those involved in providing opportunities to participate to argue for continued support. But we were also keen not to lose sight of the original motivation for developing the Manifesto, which was about encouraging those providers of arts participation opportunities to work with each other to increase participation, particularly amongst those sections of the population who are under-represented in terms of arts participation. In the end we agreed that these two are not mutually exclusive: reduced support for participation is likely to increasingly skew the profile of arts participants away from those under-represented groups. We came up with a host of ideas for how the Participation Manifesto – and the broad coalition of providers of participation opportunities it represents – might be able to help to address these issues. We agreed to develop a detailed action plan for the Manifesto development group to guide our work over the coming year.

Robin Simpson.



Back to School of Everything by Robin Simpson
July 8, 2010, 4:42 pm
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On Wednesday Kevin, Mary and I were in London to meet Paul Miller at School of Everything. We discussed the idea of using School of Everything to host the data about voluntary arts groups in Northern Ireland that we have been gathering through the Art: Take Part project and enabling this information to be easily searched and maintained. We also talked about how to encourage voluntary arts groups across the UK and Ireland to use School of Everything to attract new members and how we might work with some of the national voluntary arts umbrella bodies to achieve this.

Robin Simpson