Cultural Playing Field


Community Arts Qualifications Advisory Group meeting by Robin Simpson
December 4, 2015, 3:11 pm
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On Thursday I was at the offices of UK Music in London for the first meeting of the new Community Arts Qualifications Advisory Group. This group has been set up by Creative & Cultural Skills for two reasons. Firstly, the Government’s current apprenticeship reform programme requires a fresh look at all existing apprenticeship frameworks, converting them to new ‘Apprenticeship Standards’ by September 2017. CCSkills believes the current Community Arts framework is popular and important to maintain and has established the Advisory Group to shape a new apprenticeship for the future. The Advisory Group will also formally advise on the curriculum development for the new National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries. This is an initiative CCSkills is setting up to deliver high quality, industry-led intensive vocational training at Purfleet in Essex, and through partners nationwide. CCSkills plans to include a community arts strand to the curriculum (working title ‘Audiences and Participation’). The Advisory Group will shape this strand, working with the University of the Arts London Awarding Body. At our first meeting we discussed the need for more apprentices in the arts and the challenges and opportunities for larger arts organisations as a result of the Government’s new apprenticeships levy which comes into force from April 2017.

Robin Simpson.



Arts Development UK Professional Development Working Party meeting by Robin Simpson
September 5, 2014, 4:17 pm
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On Friday I was in Birmingham for a meeting of the Arts Development UK (ADUK) Professional Development Working Party. We were joined by Jessica Harris from NCVO to discuss the Cultural Commissioning Programme (CCP) and the potential for links between the CCP learning programme and the ADUK professional fellowship programme. We also considered the possibility of further ADUK national events to share learning and research from the CCP, following the success of the initial national seminars on cultural commissioning in June 2014. We then discussed the ADUK Conference which will take place at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 16/17 October, where the keynote speaker will be the Chair of Voluntary Arts, Peter Stark. You can book your conference place at: http://artsdevelopmentuk.org/2014/08/arts-development-uk-conference-arts-for-life/. We were delighted to learn that the 2016 ADUK Conference will be hosted by Hull, UK City of Culture 2016. We also looked at the programme for the next ADUK national seminar which will focus on Arts & Health and will take place at the Catrin Finch Centre at Wrexham University in February or March 2015. The ADUK Professional Development Working Party then discussed ‘Our Cultural Commons’ – which is a partnership between Voluntary Arts and ADUK. We looked in particular at the scoping research currently being undertaken by the C3 Consultancy, led by Sue Isherwood, and talked about how best to publicise Sue’s call for existing examples of innovative, collaborative approaches to local cultural infrastructure. We also considered how the proposed Our Cultural Commons national event in June or July 2015 would fit into ADUK’s wider events programme. Finally we reviewed the ADUK Professional Fellowship Programme, which has now been running for three years, and discussed how to encourage more ADUK members to take part and the potential for further progression beyond the level of Senior Fellow. The fellowship programme is a really interesting way of encouraging and enabling continuing professional development for people working in local arts development and it is good to see how well the scheme has been taken up so far.

Robin Simpson.


Meeting the Connection Culture Programme Manager by Robin Simpson
August 8, 2014, 12:42 pm
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I was in Peterborough on Monday to meet Josie Hickin, the new Creative People and Places Programme Manager for Connection Culture. The Peterborough Creative People and Places consortium (of which Voluntary Arts is a member) has employed Josie to lead its programme to increase engagement in the arts in Peterborough. We talked about the various strands of the Connection Culture programme (focussing on young people, diverse communities and the voluntary arts sector – supported by the ‘Chamber of Culture’ which is providing training and mentoring). We discussed some of the particular challenges we are likely to face and the role each of the consortium partners will play in the delivery of the programme strands. It’s great to have Josie in post and I hope the Connection Culture programme will now really start to take shape.

Robin Simpson.



Do Something Brilliant by Robin Simpson
June 20, 2014, 9:59 am
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On Thursday I was in London to take part in the first meeting of the advisory group for the Media Trust’s ‘Do Something Brilliant’ campaign. ‘Do Something Brilliant’ is a flagship campaign, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which offers charities and community groups opportunities to tell their stories in different ways. See the ‘Do Something Brilliant’ TV advert at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-oTVZnvFdI. The campaign showcases stories to inspire people as well as providing training, resources, workshops, and a community newswire. ‘Do Something Brilliant’ was launched in February this year and has already broadcast a range of material online and through the Community Channel (Freeview channel 63). The campaign is working across the UK, with Outreach Managers and Advisory Boards in each nation. There are four themes to ‘Do Something Brilliant’ – active, together, green and creative. Voluntary Arts has been asked to advise on the ‘creative’ theme and to ensure that voluntary arts groups take advantage of the opportunities to raise their profile and the workshops (on digital storytelling, video skills etc) being provided by the Media Trust. See: http://www.dosomethingbrilliant.co.uk/

Robin Simpson.



Connection Culture, Peterborough by Robin Simpson
May 16, 2014, 10:41 am
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On Wednesday I was in Peterborough for a meeting of the Creative People and Places consortium – now called ‘Connection Culture’. We worked on the details of the three main strands of our programme to increase engagement in the arts in Peterborough. These strands focus on young people, diverse communities and voluntary arts groups and will be backed up by a ‘Chamber of Culture’ which will provide advice, training and mentoring to local artists and cultural organisations.  

Robin Simpson.



Community Games by Robin Simpson
February 28, 2014, 10:10 am
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On Monday I was in Birmingham to meet Nikki Enoch, the National Manager of Community Games (a legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games). Since January 2012 there have been 3,551 Community Games across England. Each Community Games has to be led by volunteers, needs an cultural element as well as sports and must have opening and closing events. Community Games is run by a partnership involving the County Sports Partnership Network and the YMCA, and is administered by Nikki who is a freelance consultant. To run a Community Games in your community all you need to do is register on the Community Games website at http://www.communitygames.org.uk/. You will then be contacted by your local County Sports Partnership and will receive a toolkit, access to e-training and a package of resources including bunting, banners, postcards and t-shirts that can be customised for your event. You get a page on the national Community Games website to promote your event and help and advice from your local County Sports Partnership. We talked about the potential to involve voluntary arts groups in providing the cultural elements of Community Games, the possibility of voluntary arts groups leading their own Community Games and the opportunities to link Community Games to Voluntary Arts Week. Community Games is an England initiative at the moment but has ambitions to spread to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Robin Simpson.



RSC Open Stages Skills Sharing Weekend at The Questors Theatre, London by Robin Simpson
February 28, 2014, 9:58 am
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Last Saturday I was at the Questors Theatre in London for the start of our latest RSC Open Stages Skills Sharing Weekend. Questors, founded in 1929, is the largest non-professional theatre company in Europe and hosts a season of around twenty productions a year. Questors is the only amateur theatre company among the regional partner theatres supporting Open Stages and acts as a hub for the amateur theatre groups in London and the South East taking part in the current Open Stages project.

 

Michael Corbridge leading a voice workshop at the RSC Open Stages Skills Sharing Weekend at The Questors Theatre in London

Michael Corbridge leading a voice workshop at the RSC Open Stages Skills Sharing Weekend at The Questors Theatre in London

On Saturday around 100 amateur actors from participating groups gathered at the Questors Theatre in Ealing to take part in workshops on voice, acting, movement and stage combat, led by the RSC’s team of professional expert facilitators. I’m always incredibly impressed by the standard of the amateur actors we see at the Open Stages skills sharing sessions. Invariably they tackle exercises used by drama schools and professional theatre companies with a level of skill, creativity and experience that makes it impossible to tell that you are not actually watching an internal RSC training session.

On Saturday we were joined by Erica Whyman, the Deputy Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Erica joined the RSC in January 2013 and works closely with Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, on all aspects of artistic strategy. She now has overall responsibility for the Open Stages project and the RSC’s programme of work with amateur theatre and this was her first experience of an Open Stages skills-sharing weekend. I talked to Erica about the origins and development of Open Stages and the RSC’s plans for further work with the amateur theatre sector beyond the end of the current Open Stages project.

Robin Simpson.