Cultural Playing Field

Third Sector Research Centre Conference by Robin Simpson
April 19, 2013, 4:03 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

I was in London on Friday to attend the Third Sector Research Centre Conference at the British Library. TSRC was created in 2008 with funding from the Office for the Third Sector, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Barrow Cadbury Trust. It is now in the final year of its current funding and this conference was titled “What is the future for the third sector?” TSRC Director, Pete Alcock, suggested we needed to consider three questions: is this the worst of times?; is it no longer a ‘voluntary’ sector?; and is there a need for a strategic lead for the third sector? Dan Corry, Chief Executive of New Philanthropy Capital looked at how the third sector has changed since 2008, where it is going and why we need research on all this. He discussed ‘adjustment strategies’ (collaboration, mergers, closures, consortia, co-design and co-production) and wondered whether we were witnessing a ‘hollowing out’ of the middle of the sector. I took part in a workshop on ‘Organisations’ led by Rob Macmillan from TSRC and Karl Wilding from NCVO. Karl suggested that the new generation are ‘sector agnostic’ – they don’t care how they do social change, they just want to do it. Maybe traditional organisational structures are becoming less important. We discussed the danger of organisations focussing on perpetuating their own existence. It was an interesting and thought-provoking discussion with a group including academics, funders and representatives of third sector organisations.

Robin Simpson.


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