Cultural Playing Field

Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group meeting by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:59 am
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I was in London on Tuesday to attend a meeting of the Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. When the Government published ‘New Challenges New Chances: Further Education and Skills System Reform Plan: Building a World Class Skills System’ in December 2011 it made it clear that its funding for Community Learning in England will be focussed on the most disadvantaged people, that local communities would be involved in defining need in relation to Community Learning and that the effect of public investment in Community Learning must be maximised by attracting additional income from other sources. ‘New Challenges New Chances’ also proposed establishing new Community Learning Trusts. 15 pilot Community Learning Trusts have been in operation since August 2012. These Community Learning Trusts have been tasked with: creating local infrastructure with real identity; testing new partnership and collaborative models; growing and diversifying provision, participation and providers; generating additional resources for Community Learning; developing approaches to community consultation; and developing approaches to widening the provider base. The Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group will meet throughout 2013 to assess the progress of the pilot Community Learning Trusts. At Tuesday’s meeting I was pleased to see the continuing emphasis on the importance of self-organised learning groups and the need to support such groups – including local voluntary arts organisations.

Robin Simpson.

Epic Awards 2013: People’s Choice Award by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:36 am
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On Tuesday we launched the Epic Awards 2013 People’s Choice voting. The response from the shortlisted groups has been amazing. Within 24 hours more than 1,500 votes had been registered on the Epic Awards website and we are now up to 4,611 votes. The scale of twitter conversations about the People’s Choice Award has been phenomenal – just try searching Twitter for ‘epicawards’. Voting is open until midday on Wednesday 30 January when we will reveal the People’s Choice UK and Republic of Ireland champion. See:

Robin Simpson.

Bacc for the Future by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:28 am
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On Tuesday I met Deborah Annetts from the ISM who is co-ordinating the Bacc for the Future campaign. Deborah says:

“We had reached a critical point in the EBacc campaign. With government currently considering the responses it has received to the EBacc consultation it is vital that we keep up the momentum to keep creativity at the heart of education in our schools.

“So please, if you have not already done so, could I ask you to consider signing up to the Bacc for the Future campaign and add your organisation’s name to the 95 which already have signed up. We already have support from organisations as diverse as RIBA, the Design Council and the BPI so it would be great to have your support and your logo on the site. Please do also pass on the details of the petition so that we can continue to increase the number of signatories which is now over 40,000 strong.

“Ministers are very much aware of this campaign so we have a great opportunity right now to influence government’s policy on creative subjects in schools. So please do sign up without delay at: Many thanks.”

Robin Simpson.

Cutting red tape is good news for amateur arts by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:23 am
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On Monday the Government announced plans to remove regulations relating to community entertainment. The change will mean that community venues in England and Wales – including community centres, schools, village halls and hospitals – will be exempt from licensing restrictions. The measures to deregulate plays, dance and indoor sport will be put to Parliament in the next few weeks, with the intention of bringing the measures into effect by April 2013, see: I wrote a piece for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport blog welcoming the changes, see: and Voluntary Arts got a mention in the Weekly e-mail from the Conservative Culture and Creative Industries Team.

Robin Simpson.

Running Your Group Weekly, 7 January 2013 by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:13 am
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On Monday I hosted ‘Running Your Group Weekly’. Daniel, Kevin and I were joined by the freelance charity technologist, Louise Brown. Louise spoke about using technology to help your committee or board operate more effectively. She described a range of free online tools including Doodle, various Google applications, Delicious and the remarkable possibilities offered by IFTTT (If This Then That) which I hadn’t come across before. You can watch the recording of Monday’s webcast at:

Next Monday at 5 pm Running Your Group Weekly will focus on Voluntary Arts Week 2013 with Cassandra Barron joining us to talk about how to get involved.

Robin Simpson.