Cultural Playing Field

Arts Development UK National Committee meeting by Robin Simpson
September 27, 2013, 3:52 pm
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On Friday I was in London for the Arts Development UK National Committee meeting. ADUK has more members now than at the end of last year and the planned diversification of its membership seems to be working well as now only 10% of members are arts development officers. The ADUK annual conference takes place in Birmingham on 28/29 November. We discussed the ADUK survey into arts investment by local authorities which suggests the long term picture is quite bleak. I spoke about the launch of our Epic Awards scheme ( and announced the dates for Voluntary Arts Week 2014 (9-18 May).
Robin Simpson.


Rural Arts, Craft & Participation by Robin Simpson
September 27, 2013, 10:25 am
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I was in Spalding, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday to take part in the Participation & Engagement in the Arts Knowledge Exchange Network seminar on Rural Arts, Craft & Participation. This seminar was run by the Knowledge Exchange Network at Leeds Metropolitan University in partnership with Transported, the Boston and South Holland Creative People and Places consortium, with a joint focus on both engaging rural communities in arts and the use of craft to facilitate participation. Carol Parker, a local freelance artist, and Dave Briggs, from creative communities, spoke about ‘Increasing participation and engagement in a rural context’ looking at the key issues and potential solutions. Nic Millington, Chief Executive of the Rural Media Company based in Hereford, described a range of successful projects, particularly focussing on the use of community film making, building on the community play movement of the 1970s and 80s. Finally Dr Stephen Knott gave a presentation on ‘Craft, material engagement and participatory art’. He spoke about the importance of amateurism, the legacy of William Morris and how craft is a good way of engaging people, referring to the huge popularity of knitting clubs, stitch and bitch groups, collaborative craft making and craft clubs. It was very interesting to set this discussion in the context of the Transported programme which is working to increase arts engagement in the mostly rural setting of South Holland.
Robin Simpson.

Meeting the new Chief Executive of Creative Scotland by Robin Simpson
September 20, 2013, 10:29 am
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On Tuesday I was in Edinburgh where Jemma and I met Janet Archer, the new Chief Executive of Creative Scotland. We talked about the current activities of Voluntary Arts Scotland, the development of the new Voluntary Arts Strategic Plan 2014-17 and our planned work in Scotland over the next few years. We discussed Creative Scotland’s new Annual Plan 2013-14, particularly Strategic Outcome 2 “Access to, and participation in, the arts and creative activity increases year on year across Scotland, particularly from equality groups and people from less advantaged backgrounds” and the proposed strategic partnership with Voluntary Arts Scotland. We also briefed Janet on Epic Awards 2014 – the winners’ reception for which will take place at Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow in February 2014. It was a positive, interesting and wide-ranging first discussion with the new Chief Executive.
Robin Simpson.

Creative People and Places: Blackpool and Wyre by Robin Simpson
September 12, 2013, 4:51 pm
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On Thursday I was in Blackpool where Laraine and I met representatives of the Blackpool and Wyre Creative People and Places consortium. The consortium sees encouraging growth within the amateur arts sector as essential to the sustainability of its programme to increase engagement and has included a range of potential collaborations with Voluntary Arts as part of its business plan. We discussed how we might work together to develop the most effective programme of activities and how we might be able link this to our existing Up for Arts Lancashire project.
Robin Simpson.

Supporting the amateur arts in Nottinghamshire by Robin Simpson
September 12, 2013, 4:49 pm
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On Wednesday I was at County Hall in Nottingham to meet Kevin Tennant, Strategic Arts Development Officer at Nottinghamshire County Council. Supporting the amateur and voluntary arts sector is a specific part of Kevin’s role. The County Council commissioned some research into the sector last year and has now launched a programme of training events, funding support surgeries and marketing workshops. We talked about other ways to support the amateur arts in Nottinghamshire and the potential for links to the new Creative People and Places consortium in Ashfield, Bolsover, Mansfield and North East Derbyshire.
Robin Simpson.