Cultural Playing Field


Luminate Festival Strategy Group meeting by Robin Simpson
February 15, 2013, 11:32 am
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On Tuesday I was in Edinburgh for a meeting of the Luminate Festival Strategy Group at Creative Scotland. The second Luminate Festival (Scotland’s creative ageing festival) will take place in October 2013. On Tuesday we looked at the evaluation of the inaugural festival undertaken by BOP Consulting, considered recommendations on the future governance structure for the festival from Arts & Business Scotland, and discussed the latest plans for the 2013 festival. See: http://www.luminatescotland.org/

Robin Simpson.

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Running Your Group Weekly, 11 February 2013 by Robin Simpson
February 15, 2013, 11:01 am
Filed under: webcast | Tags: , , , , ,

On Monday I hosted Running Your Group Weekly. Kevin and I were joined by Irene Heathcote from Quilts 4 London – the winners of the 2013 England Epic Award. Irene told us how a simple idea to make gifts for the athletes at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games developed into a massive project that involved thousands of people across the UK (and Australia!) with Irene’s postman making four deliveries a day as the pennants rolled in. You can watch our conversation with Irene at http://www.voluntaryarts.org/running-your-group/running-your-group-weekly/ and please join us there next Monday at 5 pm for another Running Your Group Weekly video webcast.

Robin Simpson.



Running Your Group Weekly, 4 February 2013 by Robin Simpson
February 7, 2013, 1:42 pm
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On Monday I hosted Running Your Group Weekly. Daniel, Kevin and I were joined by Niall Bogue from Project St Patrick in Fermanagh – the winners of the 2013 Ireland Epic Award and the Peer Award for Excellence. Niall told us about the casual conversation over a few drinks which led to the development of a new kind of St Patrick’s Day Parade involving 500 participants and an audience of 14,000 people. He explained how this massive undertaking is still managed by a committee of nine volunteers and described their eclectic approach to making the St Patrick’s Day celebrations a truly cross-community event. You can watch our conversation with Niall at http://www.voluntaryarts.org/running-your-group/running-your-group-weekly/ and please join us there next Monday at 5 pm for another Running Your Group Weekly video webcast.

Robin Simpson.



Epic Awards 2013 by Robin Simpson
February 1, 2013, 3:43 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

I was in Derry on Thursday for the Epic Awards 2013 Winners’ Reception: it was a wonderful occasion.

Before the Epic Awards activities got started, Kevin, Stephen, Marilyn and I had lunch with politicians from the Northern Ireland Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, which had been holding its meeting in Derry. The Chair and one other member of the Committee then came to the evening Epic Awards reception.

Flower arranging at Verbal Arts Centre
Flower arranging at Verbal Arts Centre

Throughout the afternoon the Verbal Arts Centre was full of local voluntary arts groups demonstrating their activities and allowing members of the public to try their hand at a variety of arts and crafts. The atmosphere was lovely and the building was packed – with a TV crew squeezing past participants to get the best shots. During the afternoon we learned that the Epic Awards Winners’ Reception had just been mentioned on BBC Radio 2.

The evening reception started with performances from the City of Derry Guitar Festival and the Taiko Drumming Circle. We then commenced the presentations, with the winning groups receiving their prizes from the Mayor of Derry, a Government Minister (Jonathan Bell from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister) and Voluntary Arts Chair, Peter Stark. As in previous years, the acceptance speeches by the representatives of the four Epic Award winning groups were passionate and inspiring. A packed audience was charmed and astounded by the stories of what had been achieved by voluntary arts groups across the UK and Ireland.

Taiko Drumming Circle

Taiko Drumming Circle

At the end of the evening we announced that our new Peer Award for Excellence (for which all the shortlisted groups were asked to nominate each other) had been won by the Ireland Epic Award winners, the Fermanagh St Patrick’s Day Parade. This news brought the house down – with the Fermanagh group genuinely thrilled. Theirs is an amazing story – of reinventing the idea of a St Patrick’s Day parade as a cross-community, non-sectarian carnival which last year attracted 14,000 people.

Details of all the Epic Award winners (and photos of the award presentations) are at http://blog.epicawards.co.uk/2013/02/winners-receive-awards-and-accolades-at-one-epic-party/ – many congratulations to them all. And many thanks to everyone across Voluntary Arts who helped to make the 2013 Epic Awards so successful.

Robin Simpson.



Running Your Group Weekly, 14 January 2013 by Robin Simpson
January 18, 2013, 9:40 am
Filed under: webcast | Tags: , , , ,

On Monday I hosted ‘Running Your Group Weekly’ live from Edinburgh where Cassandra joined me and Kevin to talk about Voluntary Arts Week 2013. You can watch the recording of Monday’s webcast at: http://www.voluntaryarts.org/running-your-group/running-your-group-weekly/.

Next Monday at 5 pm Running Your Group Weekly will focus on the effect London 2012 has had on volunteering with the volunteering consultant Rob Jackson joining us to talk about the lessons learned from the Games Maker volunteer programme.

Robin Simpson.



Epic Awards 2013: People’s Choice Award by Robin Simpson
January 11, 2013, 10:36 am
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On Tuesday we launched the Epic Awards 2013 People’s Choice voting. The response from the shortlisted groups has been amazing. Within 24 hours more than 1,500 votes had been registered on the Epic Awards website and we are now up to 4,611 votes. The scale of twitter conversations about the People’s Choice Award has been phenomenal – just try searching Twitter for ‘epicawards’. Voting is open until midday on Wednesday 30 January when we will reveal the People’s Choice UK and Republic of Ireland champion. See: http://epicawards.co.uk/shortlist/.

Robin Simpson.



Put Your Best Pencil Forward by Robin Simpson
December 7, 2012, 4:59 pm
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , ,

On Thursday afternoon we launched an exhibition of drawings from the Voluntary Arts Ireland ‘Put Your Best Pencil Forward’ project at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork. Put Your Best Pencil Forward was part of The Big Draw – a national campaign to encourage more people to get actively involved in drawing. We received over 230 entries from all over the UK and Ireland which are displayed on the VAI Facebook page. Curators from the Lewis Glucksman Gallery then chose their favourite 20 drawings to be exhibited in their prestigious gallery space. Some of the chosen amateur artists were present on Thursday to see their drawings displayed in the gallery. It was great to see the high quality of the drawings and to see amateur artists getting proper recognition from the professional arts world. You can watch the video compilation of the chosen drawings at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfDqPOEDTWk&feature=youtu.be

Robin Simpson.