Cultural Playing Field

Taking Part conference by Robin Simpson
November 5, 2010, 11:44 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

Last Friday and Saturday I was in London to attend the Taking Part Conference (‘arts, culture and civil society’) at the Southbank Centre and Goldsmiths, University of London. This was a large scale conference looking at arts participation, community engagement and civil society and the organisers had taken a very creative approach to the structure of the event. Perhaps inevitably, the conference was dominated by concerns about funding (it should really have been called ‘arts, culture and the spending review’!). There was also an interesting tension between the debate about developing civil society by means of interventions in communities and the idea of supporting  communities to develop themselves. Nevertheless there were some fascinating presentations and it was good to meet some amazing community arts practitioners, including guests from the USA and Canada. It was also great to catch up with one of my illustrious predecessors, former VAN Director Peter Stark who now runs the Swallows Partnership in South Africa. I spoke on Saturday afternoon in a session on Active Citizenship and you can read my conference paper (“The role and potential of amateur arts groups in building an empowered, participative, fulfilled and healthy civil society”) on the Taking Part website at:

Robin Simpson.