Cultural Playing Field

Running Your Group LIVE – Nick Livingston at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland by Robin Simpson
March 8, 2013, 4:22 pm
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On Friday I was in Belfast to interview Nick Livingston, Director of Strategic Development, at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for Running Your Group LIVE. ‘Ambitions for the Arts’ – the new five-year strategy for the arts in Northern Ireland – is currently out to public consultation and we took this opportunity to ask Nick about the Arts Council’s position in relation to the voluntary arts sector. The draft strategy refers to the Arts Council’s mission to place the Arts at the heart of social, economic and creative life. It goes on to talk about engaging people and deepening their involvement in the arts. I asked Nick about the role practical participation in the arts has to play in helping the Arts Council deliver its mission. The strategy also talks about promoting access and diversity through a wide range of target groups. Volunteering and voluntary activities are a key component of the strategy. I asked Nick what the Arts Council sees as the benefits of volunteering in the arts and what risks volunteering creates. You can watch the full interview at:

Robin Simpson.

Meeting NIACE Dysgu Cymru by Robin Simpson
March 1, 2013, 11:46 am
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I was in Cardiff on Tuesday where Daniel and I met Richard Spear and Essex Havard from NIACE Dysgu Cymru – the Wales branch of The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. NIACE works to promote adult learning, particularly for those who have missed out on formal education. We talked about developing links between Voluntary Arts Week (11-19 May) and Adult Learners’ Week (18 – 24 May). We also discussed how the two organisations might support each other’s lobbying and advocacy work in Wales and opportunities to link our work on active ageing.

Robin Simpson.

Creative People and Places: Barking and Dagenham by Robin Simpson
March 1, 2013, 11:44 am
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On Monday evening I was the splendid Eastbury Manor House in Barking, East London for an Affiliates Meeting of the Barking and Dagenham Creative People and Places consortium. The consortium’s three-year programme to increase arts engagement in Barking and Dagenham is called ‘The Ripple Market’. It is built on the idea of ripples spreading outwards – not dripping downwards (as well as being a reference to Ripple Road which runs through the centre of Barking) and will focus on the theme of markets, trade and exchange which have always been central to the two boroughs. The Creative People and Places consortium has already attracted a wide range of affiliate organisations to support the programme and has recruited a team of ‘community connectors’ – local people who will develop contacts and networks to make the programme as effective as possible. Susie Miller, Artistic Director of The Ripple Market, and Fiona Whitty from Studio 3 Arts told us about their recent visit to Nigeria and how this has influenced some of their plans for The Ripple Market. London has the largest Nigerian population outside Nigeria and in Barking and Dagenham the black African population has grown from 4.4% to 15.4% in the past 10 years. Susie hopes to commission an artist from Nigeria to work in Barking and Dagenham as part of the Creative People and Places programme and it was fascinating to look at the parallels between the boroughs and Lagos in relation to street markets and trading. I was also impressed with how the consortium plans to integrate existing local amateur arts groups into the programme, for example by asking the local photographic society to document the visit of the Nigerian artist. And the consortium’s large-scale seed funding programme will provide 50 awards per year to local amateur groups and artists at the start of their careers.

Robin Simpson.