Cultural Playing Field


NALGAO Trustees Committee meeting by Robin Simpson
July 17, 2009, 9:37 am
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On Wednesday afternoon I made a brief appearance at the National Association of Local Government Officers Trustees Committee meeting where we had a worrying discussion about the effects of the Association of Chief Police Officers guidance on charging for the policing of outdoor events. We also talked about the Participation Manifesto which we now hope to be able to launch at the NALGAO Conference in Swindon in October.

Robin Simpson.

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Catching up with the National Campaign for the Arts by Robin Simpson
July 17, 2009, 9:36 am
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I then met Louise de Winter of the National Campaign for the Arts for our regular catch-up meeting. We discussed the emerging implications for voluntary arts groups of the new immigration and visas system. We also examined the new Arts Council England staffing structure and what the changes might mean in relation to ACE’s work on arts participation and the voluntary arts.

Robin Simpson.



A manifesto for participation in the arts and crafts by Robin Simpson
June 24, 2009, 10:56 am
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Last Friday I was in Peterborough for a meeting of the Participation Manifesto initial development group. We agreed some final changes to the wording of the manifesto document and started to plan its launch and implementation. We hope to encourage as many organisations and individuals as possible to pledge their support for the Participation Manifesto and to create an online ‘Participation in the Arts’ forum and an annual ‘Participation in the Arts’ conference. The forum and conference will enable us to continue the momentum generated by the development of the manifesto, to link organisations involved in arts participation and to share experience and models. We hope to launch the Participation Manifesto in October 2009 – probably at the National Association of Local Government Arts Officers Conference.

Robin Simpson.



Future Britain: Arts leading the way by Robin Simpson
June 18, 2009, 9:08 am
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On Monday I was at Tate Britain in London for the National Campaign for the Arts conference: ‘Future Britain: Arts leading the way’. The focus of the day was to launch the NCA Arts Manifesto for the next general election. Looking back at the previous NCA Arts Manifesto, where the voluntary arts featured as a separate section towards the end of the document, shows how far we have come in persuading the rest of the arts sector that we are all part of a single eco-system. The new NCA Arts Manifesto integrates the voluntary arts throughout – realising the greater strength we have together rather than apart. Another indication of this change in attitude was the fact that the final panel session at Monday’s conference featured the Culture Minister Barbara Follett, the Conservative Shadow Minister Ed Vaizey, the Chief Executive of Arts Council England Alan Davey, NCA Director Louise de Winter and me. I am very grateful to the NCA for recognising the significance and importance of the voluntary arts so publicly. And it was very exciting to be introduced by Joan Bakewell and followed by Melvyn Bragg, who formally launched the arts manifesto with an inspiring call to arms. Barbara Follett spoke about the Treasury as the ‘elephant in the room’ and stressed the need for quantification, citing ‘Our Creative Talent’ – the 2008 DCMS/ACE research into the voluntary and amateur arts in England. She said “the arts have an enormous contribution to make to wellbeing and happiness.” Ed Vaizey saw huge opportunities in the voluntary sector. He said there are lots of arts charities but was worried that they are not working together. NCA President Lord Bragg closed the conference by saying “the creative industries is an idea whose time has come … the spearhead of our economy is now the creative industries: the arts are the leading brand in this country”.

Robin Simpson.



Reviewing the draft NCA Arts Manifesto by Robin Simpson
May 22, 2009, 9:49 am
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On Tuesday I was in London for my regular meeting with Louise de Winter at the National Campaign for the Arts. We discussed in detail the draft NCA Arts Manifesto for the next General Election and I suggested a number of small amendments and additions. It was interesting to compare the new NCA Manifesto with its predecessor from 2004/05: I like the new approach which is more focussed on what the arts can do and why they are important and makes a small number of general demands of government rather than a lengthy and very specific shopping list. I was pleased to see the voluntary arts no longer dealt with in a separate section but fully integrated throughout the manifesto (starting with a mention in the second sentence of the introduction!).

Robin Simpson.



NALGAO Trustees meeting by Robin Simpson
April 23, 2009, 5:07 pm
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I was back in London on Tuesday to attend the National Association of Local Government Arts Officers Board meeting. Among many topics we discussed the new Arts Council England Arts Checklist for local authorities, voluntary arts groups being invoiced for the costs of policing free community events, the Participation Manifesto and the effect of the ending of the Awards for All grants scheme.

Robin Simpson.



A new manifesto for the arts by Robin Simpson
January 16, 2009, 8:59 am
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On Tuesday I was a guest of Lord Salisbury at his ancestral home, Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. As the National Campaign for the Arts launches a series of consultative events around the country to draw up an arts manifesto ahead of the next general election, Lord Salisbury hosted an initial meeting of national arts sector infrastructure organisations. I joined representatives of the Independent Theatre Council, Theatrical Management Association, Equity, Association of British Orchestras, Museums Association, National Association of Local Government Arts Officers, Creative Partnerships, Visual Arts and Galleries Association, Arts & Business and the NCA to look back at the NCA’s 2004/05 Manifesto and start to think about the shape and content of its successor. While I was delighted to see a section on the voluntary arts in the 2004/05 Manifesto, I was keen to suggest that the new Manifesto should take a more holistic view of the arts – looking at broad topics such as participation, excellence, audiences etc rather than dividing the territory into subsectors. I also urged the NCA to ensure the Manifesto covers the arts as a whole – not just those arts organisations funded by Arts Council England.

Robin Simpson.