Cultural Playing Field

European Years: What do they mean for us? by Robin Simpson
January 30, 2012, 10:49 am
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On Friday afternoon I attended an Office for Civil Society Strategic Partners event, ‘European Years: What do they mean for us?’ at Europe House in London. Connecting the European Year of Volunteering 2011 with the European Year of Active Aging 2012 and the European Year of Citizenship 2013; this event involved the European Commission and key government departments coming together in dialogue with a range of civil society organisations. As the European Year of Active Aging 2012 begins, we shared learning from previous European Years as part of the last gathering of our European Year of Volunteering 2011 steering group. The general consensus seemed to be that the European Year of Volunteering had been very successful across Europe but only partly successful in England. The challenge was exemplified by one participant in a European Year of Volunteering event in Manchester who had memorably said “what on earth has Europe got to do with Oldham?!” There was some very sensible discussion about the need for a greater handover period between European Years – maybe three months at the end of each year in which the connections between the two themes are explored in more detail.

Robin Simpson.


Points of Contact – phase two by Robin Simpson
January 20, 2012, 9:51 am
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I was back in London for a meeting at Queen Mary, University of London about the Points of Contact programme, organised by People’s Palace Projects. It feels a long time since we visited Brazil in March 2010 and a great deal has happened in the interim. There is a new Government in Brazil and a new Culture Minister – and there have been big changes to arts funding in England. So it was good to hear that People’s Palace Projects has now secured funding (from Arts Council England and the British Council) and agreement from the Brazilian Government to continue the Points of Contact exchange programme. The programme will now reflect five themes: youth arts, disability, digital, sustainability and the Cultural Olympiad (providing a link between the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games). In the first year of this second phase, Points of Contact will focus on youth arts, starting with the visit of a Brazilian delegation to the UK in March 2012. We talked about how those UK arts organisations involved in the first phase of Points of Contact have been influenced and changed by the programme and how we might be able to work with People’s Palace Projects in the next phase.

Robin Simpson.

Creative People and Places by Robin Simpson
January 20, 2012, 9:38 am
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On Tuesday I was in London to meet Phil Cave at Arts Council England to discuss the new Creative People and Places programme. Creative People and Places will focus Arts Council England investment in parts of the country where people’s involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average, with the aim of increasing the likelihood of participation. A total of £37 million will be available to establish around 15 Creative people and places projects between April 2012 and 31 March 2015. The programme is going to be launched on 30 January. For it to be effective, Phil stressed, Creative People and Places will need to work with the commercial arts and the amateur sector as well as with subsidised professional arts organisations. Voluntary Arts is working with ACE to oversee the involvement of amateur arts organisations in the programme. We will be promoting Creative People and Places to the amateur arts sector, helping to evaluate the involvement of amateur groups in the programme, providing practical assistance to the 15 local projects and working with ACE to research the most effective models for encouraging greater participation in the arts. It is a wonderful opportunity for Voluntary Arts and the sector we represent to work hand-in-hand with ACE and with professional arts organisations to get more people participating in the arts.

Robin Simpson.

Community Learning – Learner Survey by Robin Simpson
January 6, 2012, 4:43 pm
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On Friday I have been at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in London to take part in a stakeholder workshop to introduce and discuss a new BIS-funded Informal Adult and Community Learning (IACL) Learner Survey, commissioned as part of the current IACL review. The IACL Learner Survey will be a telephone survey of 4,000 learners to explore their routes into learning, their motivations for learning and the impacts they experience as a result of learning. In particular it will aim to capture the impact of IACL learning in relation to the objectives set out in the Government’s New Challenges, New Chances publication.  BIS has commissioned the social research agency TNS-BMRB to carry out the research. In Friday’s workshop we looked in detail at the areas the telephone questionnaire will cover. We were also given details of separate BIS-commissioned research into Adult Learning and Wellbeing.

Robin Simpson.