I go to museums a lot; it’s part of Arts Council keeping fully in touch with what’s happening around the country. But Friday was unusual even for me. I visited all eight Cambridge University museums and galleries in a single day: an exhausting, inspiring whistle stop tour.
When I arrived at the Arts Council a little over two years ago, I discovered (with some alarm!) that I was going to be the Executive Board member with responsibility for Goal 1, for ensuring that ‘excellence is thriving and celebrated in arts, museums and libraries’. Who was going to determine what was ‘excellent’ – our arts and cultural leaders? The professional critics? …Me? Would it ever be possible to agree within the Arts Council – let alone amongst arts and cultural organisations – what are the key determinants of ‘quality’?
It’s now been a week or so since we announced our decisions on National portfolio organisations and Major partner museums. We’ve had many reactions, as you’d imagine.
When you are making these kinds of announcements a press conference or in a blog, you have to think very quickly.
Reflecting on the process, and talking to people who’ve been on the receiving end of these decisions, I find myself wanting to share one or two thoughts I was unable to dwell on at the time.
Today Arts Council England announces its National portfolio of arts organisations and its Major partner museums for 2015-18.
I believe the decisions we’ve made reward ambition. We have looked to the future, investing in work for children and young people, and seeking to develop talent, wherever it emerges. We’ve sought to reach into more communities, while continuing to invest in arts organisations that have done great things in the last three years; we want them to build on their past work, and go further.
I'm writing this blog on my way to Durham, a great city with a council going out of its way to embrace and enhance its cultural offer. I'm looking forward to a conversation about what we can do together, both in the short term and the long - building capacity and engagement.
Jane Trowell from art activist organisation Platform looks at some of the ethical issues surrounding arts funding.
By now everyone will know about the reductions in funding that have been passed on to Arts Council England, subsequent to the Chancellor’s autumn statement. These cuts will have an effect over the next two years.
Cuts are never good news. I know that budgets will have been set, and this will be an unwelcome further disruption.
In the light of these cuts, there are a couple of points that I’d like to make.
Live chat with Arts Council England's Chief Executive, Alan Davey, Tuesday 26 November 2013.
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