Cultural Playing Field

Arts Participation, Volunteering & the Big Society by Robin Simpson
June 18, 2013, 7:12 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , ,

On Tuesday I was at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool to speak at the Knowledge Exchange Network’s seminar on Arts Participation, Volunteering & the Big Society. Leeds Metropolitan University was commissioned by Arts Council England to coordinate a Knowledge Exchange Network and a series of seminars exploring key issues in participation and engagement in the arts across the North of England. The work is being coordinated by Leila Jancovich, from the UK Centre for Events Management, and Professor Franco Bianchini from the Cultural Planning and Policy Unit in the School of Cultural Studies. Tuesday’s seminar attracted an audience of around 40 people which included academics and a wide range of arts professionals and volunteers. I spoke about our RSC Open Stages project and the need for better connections between the amateur arts, professionally-led community arts and outreach work from arts institutions. Creative Producer Stella Hall described her experience of working with volunteer performers in several mass participation projects. Janet Berry, the new Programme Director of One Blackpool, gave us a summary of the Government’s Big Society agenda and its practical manifestations. Finally, Clore Fellow Sarah Stannage described her research with volunteer-led museums across Norfolk. These presentations provoked a thoughtful and fascinating discussion, with the diverse range of viewpoints present helping to develop our thinking on arts participation, the voluntary sector, volunteering, local democracy and much more.

Robin Simpson.

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