Cultural Playing Field


Amatørkultur Conference, Copenhagen by Robin Simpson
January 23, 2015, 10:54 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Wednesday I was at Christiansborg, the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen, to give a keynote speech in the Amatørkultur conference. This one-day event, organised by AKKS (the Danish equivalent of Voluntary Arts) and DATS (the Danish amateur theatre association) aimed to encourage the development of a new national cultural policy for the amateur arts in Denmark. I was one of three foreign speakers (the others being from Belgium and Norway) invited to open the conference. We addressed an audience of around 100 local and national politicians, civil servants and representatives of amateur arts organisations in the splendid Faellessalen room at Christiansborg. I spoke about the gradual moves towards re-integrating the amateur arts into national cultural policy in England that we have seen over the past ten years. I talked about our work on the Participation Manifesto, the Our Creative Talent research, our development of the Up for Arts model, the RSC Open Stages project, Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme and the current opportunities presented by the BBC Get Creative campaign.

The Amatørkultur conference in the Faellessalen room at Christiansborg, Copenhagen

The Amatørkultur conference in the Faellessalen room at Christiansborg, Copenhagen

The second conference session involved a panel of people with responsibility for culture within five local authorities from across Denmark. The panel included a mixture of officers and elected councillors. Among the opinions expressed were the thoughts that “the amateur arts is about enthusiasm – don’t think of it as a means to achieve something else, such as health” and “culture is seen as for the elite: the amateur arts can help transform this”.

Danish Culture Minister, Marianne Jelved at the Amatørkultur conference, Christiansborg, Copenhagen

Danish Culture Minister, Marianne Jelved, Michael Aastrup Jensen, Troels Ravn and Alex Ahrendsten at the Amatørkultur conference, Christiansborg, Copenhagen

The final session of the day was a discussion between the Danish Culture Minister, Marianne Jelved, and the culture spokespersons from most of the other national political parties. The Minister spoke about the use of lottery funding in Denmark, bemoaning the fact that, over the years, politicians have decided that lottery funding should be used to support the running costs of cultural institutions so there is now only 10% of this funding left for more experimental activity. She said “a national strategy has to inspire not restrict” and suggested that there is a lot of artistic talent in Denmark that is not developed. Marianne Jelved finished by saying “when you talk about the meaning of life, talk about arts. Art has a special language.”

Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Voluntary Arts, with the Danish Culture Minister, Marianne Jelved at the Amatørkultur conference, at Christiansborg, Copenhagen

Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Voluntary Arts, with the Danish Culture Minister, Marianne Jelved at the Amatørkultur conference, at Christiansborg, Copenhagen

Robin Simpson.

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