Cultural Playing Field


Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference ‘Culture, creativity and you: why making matters’ by Robin Simpson
February 28, 2014, 11:31 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , ,

On Wednesday I was at Platform Arts in Easterhouse, Glasgow for the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference ‘Culture, creativity and you: why making matters’. Delegates were brought to the conference from the centre of Glasgow by bus with local historian Douglas McCreadie explaining the history and culture of the area. The Acting Chair of Voluntary Arts Scotland, Jim Tough, opened the conference and Jackie Shearer, Arts Manager at Platform, described the role the arts centre has been playing in urban regeneration in Easterhouse.

Richard Holloway speaking at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference 'Culture, creativity and you: why making matters'.

Richard Holloway speaking at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference ‘Culture, creativity and you: why making matters’.

Our keynote speaker was Richard Holloway, Chair of Sistema Scotland. Richard, a former Chair of Scottish Arts Council, spoke passionately and inspirationally about the how humans “represent the world back to itself” through art. He said “play is the fundamental engine of human evolution” and suggested that culture requires both conservatives who preserve traditions and radicals who break new ground. He spoke about the challenges of the modern world, suggesting “we have created a leisured class [the unemployed] with no capacity for using that time wisely”. He said “we’ve created a class that works too hard and a class that can’t get work”. Richard Holloway spoke about the success of ‘The Big Noise’ in Raploch, Stirling, saying there are now 12 children from Raploch in the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Crafting the Arts panel discussion at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference 'Culture, creativity and you: why making matters'

Crafting the Arts panel discussion at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference ‘Culture, creativity and you: why making matters’

After lunch the conference continued with a panel discussion, chaired by Caroline Docherty from Creative Scotland reflecting on the Voluntary Arts Scotland Crafting the Arts project (funded by The Big Lottery Fund). Gillian Harrison and Carol Stobie spoke about our learning from the project, the changes to local authorities and Third Sector Interfaces over the past five years and the achievements of our Voluntary Arts Ambassadors. It was great to see so many Voluntary Arts Ambassadors in the room and to have a chance to pay tribute to the wonderful voluntary contribution they have made to the work of Voluntary Arts Scotland.

Feltmaking at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference 'Culture, creativity and you: why making matters'

Feltmaking at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference ‘Culture, creativity and you: why making matters’

Delegates then engaged in a ‘Cultural Crofting’ creative discussion, addressing the challenges facing local cultural infrastructure and expressing possible solutions through the medium of felt-making – with expert instruction and support from members of the International Feltmakers Association.

Chriistopher Silver and Patricia Ferguson discussing the Scottish Independence Referendum at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference 'Culture, creativity and you: why making matters'

Chriistopher Silver and Patricia Ferguson discussing the Scottish Independence Referendum at the Voluntary Arts Scotland Conference ‘Culture, creativity and you: why making matters’

The final session of the conference saw us hosting what we believe to be the only public debate on the Scottish Independence Referendum to focus on the implications for the arts and culture. Christopher Silver of the National Collective represented Yes Scotland and the Labour Party’s Shadow Culture Minister, Patricia Ferguson MSP, spoke on behalf of the Better Together Campaign. They were joined by Andy Milne, Chief Executive of SURF, Scotland’s Independent Regeneration Network who provided a thoughtful provocation. The ensuing debate was thoughtful and polite with many areas of agreement between the speakers about the importance of the arts and culture in Scotland’s future and the need to encourage as many people as possible to vote in the referendum.

The Voluntary Arts Scotland was an excellent event in a great venue with a creatively constructed programme, interesting speakers and an attentive sell-out audience. Congratulations to Jemma, Kelly, Gillian, Carol, Jason, Cassandra and Harriet for a wonderful event.

Robin Simpson.

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