Cultural Playing Field


The Cultural Value Project by Robin Simpson
April 5, 2013, 10:22 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

On Thursday 21 March I was at the Southbank Centre in London for a reception to launch the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s new Cultural Value Project. The project seeks to establish a framework that will advance the ways in which we define and think about the value of cultural engagement as well as the methods by which we evaluate it. Professor Rick Rylance, the Chief Executive of AHRC, said “while we might feel we instinctively understand the value of culture and its importance to our lives, defining and expressing that value is surprisingly difficult, let alone the challenge of persuading others of its importance. But it is vital for us all, and for the future, that we do.” Each of the speakers at the reception, who also included the Universities Minister David Willetts, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre Jude Kelly and the Director of the Cultural Value Project Professor Geoffrey Crossick, made it clear that this project is about helping to make the case to Government (and particularly to the Treasury) about why culture needs public support and how we can measure how much support is appropriate. David Willetts made a comparison with work undertaken by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to assess the value of a meadow: everyone would agree that meadows are valuable and to be encouraged but Government had to find a way of measuring how much support it should allocate to developing and protecting meadows. Something similar needs to be done for culture. David Willetts emphasised this should not be about reducing cultural activity merely to its economic value – “not economic measures but measures that would be understood by economists”. The Cultural Value Project will fund awards to researchers in higher education institutions and approved independent research organisations. The deadline for applications to the first funding call is next week but further calls for proposals will follow.

Robin Simpson.



Community Learning Trusts Workshop by Robin Simpson
March 14, 2013, 8:51 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Tuesday afternoon I spoke at the Community Learning Trusts Workshop at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The 15 pilot Community Learning Trusts have been in operation across England since August 2012. They have been tasked with: creating local infrastructure with real identity; testing new partnership and collaborative models; growing and diversifying provision, participation and providers; generating additional resources for Community Learning; developing approaches to community consultation; and developing approaches to widening the provider base. On Tuesday I was part of a panel session on exploring other funding streams. Joining me on the panel was Leesa Herbert from NCVO (who spoke about the excellent Funding Central website: www.fundingcentral.org.uk), as well as representatives of the Big Lottery Fund and the Campaign for Learning. I took the opportunity to promote our Running Your Group online subscription services – both for the Community Learning Trusts themselves and the self-organised learning groups they support.

Robin Simpson.



Meeting NIACE Dysgu Cymru by Robin Simpson
March 1, 2013, 11:46 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , ,

I was in Cardiff on Tuesday where Daniel and I met Richard Spear and Essex Havard from NIACE Dysgu Cymru – the Wales branch of The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education. NIACE works to promote adult learning, particularly for those who have missed out on formal education. We talked about developing links between Voluntary Arts Week (11-19 May) and Adult Learners’ Week (18 – 24 May). We also discussed how the two organisations might support each other’s lobbying and advocacy work in Wales and opportunities to link our work on active ageing.

Robin Simpson.



Running Your Group Weekly, 21 January 2013 by Robin Simpson
January 25, 2013, 1:48 pm
Filed under: webcast | Tags: , , , , ,

On Monday I hosted ‘Running Your Group Weekly’. Daniel and I were joined by the volunteering consultant Rob Jackson who spoke about the lessons learned from the London 2012 Games Maker volunteer programme. You can watch the recording of Monday’s webcast at: http://www.voluntaryarts.org/running-your-group/running-your-group-weekly/.

Robin Simpson.



Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group meeting by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:59 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

I was in London on Tuesday to attend a meeting of the Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. When the Government published ‘New Challenges New Chances: Further Education and Skills System Reform Plan: Building a World Class Skills System’ in December 2011 it made it clear that its funding for Community Learning in England will be focussed on the most disadvantaged people, that local communities would be involved in defining need in relation to Community Learning and that the effect of public investment in Community Learning must be maximised by attracting additional income from other sources. ‘New Challenges New Chances’ also proposed establishing new Community Learning Trusts. 15 pilot Community Learning Trusts have been in operation since August 2012. These Community Learning Trusts have been tasked with: creating local infrastructure with real identity; testing new partnership and collaborative models; growing and diversifying provision, participation and providers; generating additional resources for Community Learning; developing approaches to community consultation; and developing approaches to widening the provider base. The Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group will meet throughout 2013 to assess the progress of the pilot Community Learning Trusts. At Tuesday’s meeting I was pleased to see the continuing emphasis on the importance of self-organised learning groups and the need to support such groups – including local voluntary arts organisations.

Robin Simpson.



Bacc for the Future by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:28 am
Filed under: comment | Tags: , , , ,

On Tuesday I met Deborah Annetts from the ISM who is co-ordinating the Bacc for the Future campaign. Deborah says:

“We had reached a critical point in the EBacc campaign. With government currently considering the responses it has received to the EBacc consultation it is vital that we keep up the momentum to keep creativity at the heart of education in our schools.

“So please, if you have not already done so, could I ask you to consider signing up to the Bacc for the Future campaign and add your organisation’s name to the 95 which already have signed up. We already have support from organisations as diverse as RIBA, the Design Council and the BPI so it would be great to have your support and your logo on the site. Please do also pass on the details of the petition so that we can continue to increase the number of signatories which is now over 40,000 strong.

“Ministers are very much aware of this campaign so we have a great opportunity right now to influence government’s policy on creative subjects in schools. So please do sign up without delay at: http://www.baccforthefuture.com/. Many thanks.”

Robin Simpson.



Arts Award by Robin Simpson
June 1, 2012, 3:03 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , , ,

On Tuesday I was in London to meet Dan Ellitts, Project Manager at Arts Award. Arts Award started 6 years ago. It was originally run by Arts Council England but last year Trinity College (which has always been the accrediting body for the award) took over its administration on a 10-year licence (ACE still owns the brand). 60,000 young people have achieved an Arts Award so far and 4,000 organisations (including school and arts/cultural organisations) have registered as Arts Award Centres. Arts Award started as a portfolio-based qualification for 11 – 25 year-olds with three levels (bronze, silver, gold). Arts Award Advisers assess the portfolios and Trinity accredits the qualification. The award is about personal development rather than skill level. Two new levels have just been added for primary age children (making the age range now 7 – 25). Although Arts Award started in England it is available more widely. There are currently a couple of Arts Award Centres in Scotland and Wales and Trinity is keen to expand internationally. To become an Arts Award Adviser you need to have had 2 years’ experience working with children/young people. The role is advisory, not teaching, and typically involves signposting young people to arts activities as well as assessing their portfolios. We discussed the potential for members of voluntary arts groups to become Arts Award Advisers and for voluntary arts groups to consider becoming Arts Award Centres. There is a new Arts Award Access Fund which offers grants of £100 – £1500. Arts Award Centres can apply for these grants to fund arts activities for young people to take part in, arts materials, trips to arts events and the costs of submitting portfolios. Dan also told me that the new status of Arts Award Supporter is being launched in June 2012 for organisations who cannot offer Arts Award as a Centre but want to badge their activities for young people. We agreed to explore the possibility of developing a Voluntary Arts Briefing to explain how voluntary arts groups could get involved in Arts Award.

Robin Simpson.



Community Learning – Learner Survey by Robin Simpson
January 6, 2012, 4:43 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Friday I have been at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in London to take part in a stakeholder workshop to introduce and discuss a new BIS-funded Informal Adult and Community Learning (IACL) Learner Survey, commissioned as part of the current IACL review. The IACL Learner Survey will be a telephone survey of 4,000 learners to explore their routes into learning, their motivations for learning and the impacts they experience as a result of learning. In particular it will aim to capture the impact of IACL learning in relation to the objectives set out in the Government’s New Challenges, New Chances publication.  BIS has commissioned the social research agency TNS-BMRB to carry out the research. In Friday’s workshop we looked in detail at the areas the telephone questionnaire will cover. We were also given details of separate BIS-commissioned research into Adult Learning and Wellbeing.

Robin Simpson.



Informal Adult and Community Learning stakeholder reference group meeting by Robin Simpson
December 15, 2011, 5:18 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

On Thursday I was at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in London to take part in a meeting of the Informal Adult and Community Learning Stakeholder Reference Group. On 1 December the Government published ‘New Challenges, New Chances’ – a Further Education and Skills System Reform Plan. This plan includes a brief reference to community learning, promising that “BIS funding will continue to support a universal community learning offer, with a wide range of learning opportunities available to all adults in England”. Specifically it says “in the 2012/13 academic year we will pilot different locally-based ‘community learning trust’ models to channel Adult Safeguarded Learning funding and lead the planning of local provision in cities, towns and rural settings”. A prospectus for these ‘community learning trusts’ is due to be launched in Spring 2012 and our meeting was the first opportunity for the Department to hear the views of a variety of stakeholders about how this new system might best work. I suggested that the ‘community learning trusts’ will need to involve self-organised learning groups such as voluntary arts organisations to help to link together the various aspects of informal adult and community learning, rather than just concentrating on learning providers that receive direct Government funding.

Robin Simpson.



Meeting Liz Lawson at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by Robin Simpson
August 10, 2011, 10:45 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

I was in London on Tuesday to meet Liz Lawson, Team Leader, Informal Adult & Community Learning at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. We discussed the Government informal adult and community learning consultation which is about to go live. This will consider how the £210m Adult Safeguarded Learning budget could be best used to support the vision for informal adult an community learning set out in Skills for Sustainable Growth. I also updated Liz on several Voluntary Arts initiatives including Epic Awards, Voluntary Arts Week, the Healthy Social Creative website and our Connected Communities research project into the impact of grassroots arts activities on communities.

Robin Simpson.