Cultural Playing Field

Peterborough Presents consortium meeting by Robin Simpson
December 5, 2014, 2:29 pm
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On Wednesday I was in Peterborough for a meeting of the Peterborough Presents Creative People and Places consortium. We were joined for the first time by Ferzana Kusair, our new Community Engagement Officer, who has now recruited the first Community Bridgebuilders from a range of diverse communities across Peterborough. Alice Johnson from Ignite reported on the recruitment of the first four trainee Young Producers who will be starting their placements with arts organisations shortly. We were also joined by Mark Prescott from Spark Culture who is producing a marketing and promotion plan for Peterborough Presents. Mark gave us a presentation on his progress to date and reported back from the national Creative People and Places marketing and audience development meeting. Finally we discussed the first round of our Development Fund. The deadline for applications is the end of this week and the panel will be meeting next week. It was great to see each of the strands of the Peterborough Presents programme beginning to get going at last.

Robin Simpson.

Peterborough Connection Culture meeting by Robin Simpson
July 18, 2014, 3:23 pm
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On Monday I chaired a meeting of Connection Culture, the Peterborough Creative People and Places consortium, at the Key Theatre in Peterborough. Connection Culture is a three-year programme, funded by Arts Council England, to achieve a step-change in arts engagement in Peterborough. We plan to do this through three main strands of activity – focussing on young people, diverse communities and voluntary arts groups – linked by a ‘Chamber of Culture’ which will provide training, mentoring and networking to each of the three strands. On Monday we were joined by Jan Kofi-Tsekpo from Arts Council England. We updated Jan on our progress and discussed issues relating to the programme budget and risk assessment. We also talked about learning points from the recent national peer learning meeting of Creative People and Places consortia in Doncaster.

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.

Discussing Arts Award by Robin Simpson
January 17, 2014, 11:54 am
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On Monday I had a telephone meeting with Anna Jones, Arts and Cultural Officer, Arts Programmes, at Trinity College London, to talk about Arts Award. Arts Award supports children and young people to develop their creative and leadership skills through a series of unique qualifications (see: We discussed the potential for voluntary arts groups to become Arts Award Supporters and agreed to look at creating a Voluntary Arts Briefing about Arts Award.

Robin Simpson.

Volunteering Network meeting by Robin Simpson
November 28, 2013, 6:22 pm
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I was in London again on Wednesday to take part in a meeting of the Volunteering Network – the forum which brings together the England Volunteering Development Council and the National Network of Volunteer-Involving Agencies. At Wednesday’s meeting we heard from John Mohan of the Third Sector Research Centre about the The Economic and Social Research Council’s plans to explore ‘Big Data’. This will bring substantial national resources to facilitate access to large scale datasets held by organisations, local and national government. It will enable extensive cross-referencing of community level data (whilst putting in place safeguards to avoid any disclosure of individual data). ESRC will create centres of expertise to facilitate access and generate high quality research. John said this could prove to be an incredibly valuable tool for the voluntary and community sector. It will improve our ability to describe the characteristics of communities and will tell us more about who our supporters and volunteers are.

We then had a presentation from Dame Julia Cleverdon (the former Chief Executive of Business In The Community) about the recently launched campaign for youth social action. Step Up To Serve is a national campaign to inspire a generation of young people through increasing the quality, quantity and frequency of social action for all young people aged between 10 and 20. In this context social action means practical action in the service of others – of double benefit to young people themselves and the community. The goal is to double the number of young people participating in social action to over 50% by 2020. That is an additional 1.7 million young people engaging in social action for the first time. The campaign brings together leaders from across UK civic society, led by HRH The Prince of Wales and with support from all of the main political parties. Dame Julia explained that Step Up To Serve was an attempt to get away from a short-term approach to youth volunteering that has seen successive governments launch new initiatives rather than building on schemes developed by their predecessors. She was adamant that we need a long-term, cross party, approach, stressing “this is not merely a lunch, a launch and a logo”. See:

Finally we heard from Clare Delap of the Care Quality Commission about CQC’s new project with Community Service Volunteers and from Tracy Whittle of NCVO about a project to develop volunteering in care homes. NCVO has secured funding from the Department of Health until end of March 2016 to pilot volunteering in care homes with the aims of improving residents’ quality of life outcomes and strengthening local communities. Through the project’s learning, a national standard of good practice in volunteering for this sector will be developed. Working in five pilot sites and with volunteer centres and care homes, the project will aim to engage 350 residents in activities/ relationships with volunteers over 3 years. See:

Robin Simpson.

Creative People and Places: Peterborough by Robin Simpson
October 25, 2013, 1:37 pm
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On Thursday morning I was at the Key Theatre in Peterborough for a meeting of the Creative People and Places consortium. We discussed and agreed governance systems for the consortium. We focussed particularly on commissioning arrangements. We then looked in detail at our plans for each of the three main strands of our programme to increase engagement in the arts (Community Producers, Voluntary Arts and Young Producers). We are now close to finalising our business plan for approval by Arts Council England.

Robin Simpson.

Arts Award by Robin Simpson
June 1, 2012, 3:03 pm
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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.