Cultural Playing Field

Understanding Everyday Participation by Robin Simpson
March 20, 2014, 6:16 pm
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On Tuesday I was in London for a meeting of the partners in the AHRC Connected Communities Everyday Participation research project. It was very interesting to hear from the researchers who have been conducting the project’s first door-to-door interviews, in Cheetham Hill, Manchester and Broughton in Salford. They have been asking people what they do in their leisure time and the excerpts from the interview transcripts we saw were fascinating. It’s chastening to remind ourselves how far away most people are from ‘the arts’ but it was very encouraging to see how the Voluntary Arts definition of ‘creative cultural activity’ is proving extremely relevant in this study of ‘everyday participation’. The project team have also been re-analysing data from the Taking Part survey to start to create a new segmentation based on statistical methods (hierarchical cluster analysis). This revealed some interesting and surprising patterns of cultural participation.

Robin Simpson.


Discussing diversity with Arts Council England by Robin Simpson
March 7, 2014, 3:16 pm
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On Wednesday I was in London to meet Amanda Roberts, Director of Diversity at Arts Council England, with colleagues from our partner organisations Voice 4 Change and Black & Ethnic Minority Arts (BEMA). This was the second of our regular meetings to explore connections between ACE and voluntary BME arts groups. We talked about diminishing resources for equality work and the danger of equality becoming a luxury rather than a necessity. We discussed how ACE could better communicate its funding opportunities to BME artists and organisations. In particular we discussed the lack of awareness of the availability of small grants up to £15k from ACE’s Grants for the Arts Lottery fund. Applications under £15k now have a 6 week turnaround and a success rate of approximately 60%. We also discussed the Voluntary Arts Expert Advisory Panel which is about to start an investigation into the nature, scale and scope of creative cultural activity within black, Asian and ethnic minority communities in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Amanda Roberts has agreed to sit on the Expert Advisory Panel and stressed how important she feels this initiative is. 

Robin Simpson.

Cultural Value Project Advisory Group meeting by Robin Simpson
March 7, 2014, 3:15 pm
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On Tuesday I was in London for a meeting of the AHRC Cultural Value Project Advisory Group. The project leader, Professor Geoffrey Crossick, gave us a report on the second funding call which resulted in 26 awards to support critical reviews and expert workshops exploring a variety of aspects of cultural value. The project team now plan to commission some further research to fill the gaps not met by the open funding calls. They will also run a series of project workshops, bringing together some current grant holders and other researchers. On Tuesday we started to discuss the structure of the final report of the Cultural Value Project. There have been some interesting contributions to the cultural value debate on the project’s blog at:

Robin Simpson.