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“the chances are that if there is a backlash then we won’t hear about it”

THREAD – showing my support for the new 10 year strategy by Arts Council England

Parenting means my brain is becoming toddler mush – I’m good on basic maths and emotional meltdowns – but this thread on arts funding is likely to be baloney and out of touch. Hey, read on! I just explored the latest draft strategy by arts council england…

There’s been lots of talk about change over the last two decades. But in terms of its main funding decisions, historically related to organisations, ACE has largely bottled out on sector-wide change. Until now.

What made me excited about reading the new strategy is that it opens things up and better reflects a complex ecology. Instead of having a restrictive set of objectives which favour organisations, I think the strategy triggers the possibility of MORE change in the future not LESS.

It should begin a period of extensive transformation in terms of who receives support & how funds are distributed. If a much greater ratio of government funds for culture do not start reaching communities & artists directly then I think the future of that subsidy looks very bleak

But reading the document, I found myself wondering if people who might be supported by this strategy in the future (who are not currently supported by ACE and who never have been) are going to give a monkey’s about this emerging strategy document?

For example, when I worked at Battersea Arts Centre, at the time of joining The Agency most young people felt 100% disconnected from any centralised government support to nurture their creativity. Or from venues like BAC. Because of decades of being ignored by both.

So if people who might benefit from this strategy in the future are unlikely to champion it now, then who will put wind in its sails? I also asked myself when reading the strategy – how many more entitled and powerful people might be giving it a private kicking?

Perhaps some people who run some of the largest NPOs – or people who are recognised and respected within the arts sector’s woeful hierarchies – people who might be balking at the idea of reshaping the way funding is distributed.

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe turkey’s vote for Christmas. But the chances are that if there is a backlash then we won’t hear about it. Because my hunch is that powerful figures will be circulating around ACE and having quiet words with them about this strategy. Letters to the boss.

So I thought I would write this – as a mini-public declaration of support for the emerging strategy. And encourage anyone else who feels like it’s an improved direction for arts funding to shout out publicly too. Not because it’s the finished article. But because it’s better.

I’ve not been to an ACE consultation session – and I am sure there will be many who are championing the strategy – and encouraging strong representation by community groups and artists to ensure this moment represents the beginning of a real, substantial and lasting sea-change.

Link to ACE strategy here:… Now back to planning next week’s toddler adventures.

20 Jul 2019

Categories: Culture FUNDING My FAVOURITES


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