Cultural Playing Field

Creative People and Places – Arts Council England East Midlands briefing session in Corby by Robin Simpson
March 2, 2012, 10:00 am
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I was in Corby, Northamptonshire on Wednesday, at the magnificent Corby Cube arts centre, for the Arts Council England East Midlands Creative People and Places briefing session. Rebecca Blackman from ACE East Midlands opened the event by emphasising “it is really important to us that communities are empowered to take the lead on shaping arts provision”. She said that Creative People and Places is not necessarily about arts organisations coming up with fantastic programmes or projects: it is not about communities “being done to” but genuinely about them having a say in what provision they want. Rebecca was also very clear that “we see the amateur sector as very important”. I then gave a presentation about the role amateur arts groups could play in a Creative People and Places consortium. There was also a fascinating presentation from Charlotte Handel from the Theatre Royal Stratford East about the ‘Open Stage’ programme (not to be confused with our RSC Open Stages project). ‘Open Stage’ has involved handing over programming power to the community for the January to July 2012 season at Stratford East. The Theatre Royal has been asking the people of East London and beyond to say what they want to see on the stage. A group of volunteers from the community has been involved in talking with the public and making decisions about what will be programmed on the stage, based on the wider public’s ideas. It’s been an amazing, empowering and surprising experience and provides many lessons to anyone hoping to become involved in Creative People and Places, not least Charlotte’s plea: “do not underestimate the power of tea and cake!”

Robin Simpson.