Live chat with Alan Davey

Live chat with Arts Council Chief Executive, Alan Davey, Thursday 24 January 2013.

Welcome to the Arts Council live chat blog. Questions and answers from the live chats will be posted below.

Upcoming live chat information and transcripts can be found here. Join the live chat conversation #ACElivechat.

The live chat begins at 12pm.

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Welcome to our chat with Alan Davey. Alan will be here until 1pm to answer as many questions as possible. Please abide by our live chat rules of engagement .

12:01 ACEmoderator: Hello everyone, thank you for joining us for our live chat with Alan Davey. Alan will be answering questions until 1pm. We hope to get through as many as possible in the next hour, but if we don’t get to yours there will be other opportunities to chat to Alan. Please check our Live chat page for forthcoming dates and a transcript of this chat.

Alan Davey: Hello, nice to be here, looking forward to your questions.

ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Mike Bedford, Chalfont St Giles, Public library user via email - What are you doing to make more Arts Council/Lottery funding available for public libraries? The current funding limitation of only ‘arts activities in libraries’ is surely over-restrictive for a body with the responsibility for libraries development generally. The Libraries Development Initiative is microscopically small.

12:04 Alan Davey: Hello Mike, Our share of National Lottery funding can only be used to support arts activities. So our Grants for the arts funds can only be used for this purpose. We still believe that this investment in libraries can go a long way to develop them, and support them to widen their cultural offer and engage with their communities in new ways. This is why we’ve set aside £6 million for applications from libraries.Yes, we do have severely limited grant in aid resources for libraries, but that is not to say that we do not take our role to support library development seriously.We will be publishing Envisioning the library of the future in Spring 2013. Taking on board the findings from this research, we will be working with partners across the sector and in government, to develop services which support libraries to adapt to changes in technology, for instance, or social change. In future, our work will range from the development of skills for library staff, to using and improving digital technologies.

ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Carol Parker @Cuinamo via Twitter#ACElivechat 'excellence' - definition please! High profile only or local homegrown? excellent delivery/engagement or excellent art? thank x

12:06 Alan Davey: Blimey! This is a tricky question because excellence is almost impossible to define – it means something different to everyone. For me, excellence can be found in the creation of art, in performance, communication, or the impact it has on an audience through delivery and engagement.Rather than go into any great depth on this, I recommend you have a read of Dame Liz Forgan’s vision for the arts 2011-21 on our website. She explained our view of excellence brilliantly.

12:07 JLaB: How will the ACE consider applications that sit between the performing arts, now that the film council is no more? sorry,"between the performing arts and film..."

12:08 Alan Davey: You're right, artists are transcending boundaries between film work and what might be termed performing arts. We take every application on its merits and also talk to the BFI a lot on our overall policy. I think we have to be fluid about this. And of course on The Space all boundaries come tumbling down.

12:09 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Scottee @ScotteeScottee via Twitter - How can we improve support btween solo artists / non NPO & AC? NPO have relship mgrs we have an 0845 no. #ACElivechat

12:10 Alan Davey: Relationship Managers do not just provide advice to our funded organisations, but also work with solo artists and organisations we don’t regularly fund, to recommend funding programmes that they may be eligible for, and to provide them with advice. In the future, we will be a smaller organisation , and we are protecting the Relationship Management and artistic and cultural expertise that we know our colleagues in the sector value so much. I really want to improve on the support we give to solo artists, and I hope to be offering more impartial support and improved process for small grants for individual artists in the future. It’s something I’m passionate about.I also think it is worth pointing out that our Enquiries team are hugely knowledgeable.

12:12 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Marianne McNamara ‏@MikronAD via Twitter#ACElivechat Does it worry you that the money may go to those that can fill in applications and not those that necessarily deserve?

12:13 Alan Davey: Because we're giving out public money we do need some form of application, but as I've just said in a previous answer, I want us to make the process of application as simple and user friendly as possible. And we are continuing to work on that both by making our own processes more simple, or by finding new ways such as our Music Industry Talent Development fund. And our knowledgeable staff are here to support people through the process.

12:14 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Richard Brooks @rwb21 via Twitter - @ace_national Will you be providing any funding for research & research degrees? If so please indicate timing, framework etc #ACElivechat

12:14 Alan Davey: We do commission individual pieces of strategic research to support the development of our policy. For instance, last year we published research into the economic benefits of arts and culture. We do not provide funding for research degrees, as this is not really our role. However, I do recommend you talk to the Higher Education Funding Council for England – they may be able to help you.

JLaB: The ACE's view, in the past, had been that it would not support film work that was not "moving image" art. That meant that it was down to broadcasters to fund almost anything that took art on to a flat screen. However, the broadcasters don't do that any more and The Space is no replacement for that.

12:17 Alan Davey: Actually our policy, as I understand it, was not to fund long form narrative films. It's an interesting point you make about broadcasters. We do talk to them all of the time and work on joint projects. I think Tony Hall arriving at the BBC will be an interesting opportunity. And I agree with you that The Space isn't a replacement for linear broadcast work. As it develops it should explore more innovative presentation and interaction in greater depth.

12:18 ic247: We have been working with different educational establishments and orchestras and festivals assisting them with their outreach and online education projects, and a large part of this has been testing ways to get internet marketing activities and interaction online paid for. Together with some of these organisations we have set up paid for by advertising systems which work well on a small scale but trends show a clear need for more audience interaction online now and for the future and the need for more interaction with audiences using mediums such as streaming, blogs, social media etc. There was a fund available via the Digital Arts fund, although it seems that "the pot" was taken quickly leaving lots of other arts and music institutions and organisations wanting to set up these digital media projects but with little or no chance of support. Is this an area in which the Arts Council aims to expand on with more budgets available somehow and what do you recommend to arts organisations who want to share their art and education online via new media with minimal budgets?

Alan Davey: You're right, that this kind of project is being supported through our digital innovation fund. One of the purposes of which is to explore new ways of connecting with audiences and getting money for doing so. We will evaluate these projects and decide what money to make available in the future. In the meantime Grants for the arts remains available if you have a good idea.

12:21 AC: Can you tell us what else Arts Council will be doing so that disabled artists are given a fair shot?

12:21 Alan Davey: Unlimited project is one of the things that I'm most proud came out of last summer. We've got to build on the momentum of that and we're thinking now about how we do that.

Cristina L.: Greetings. Does it take long for a project to be approved for funding? Also how wide is the area of arts that are supported, and are you more focused into sponsoring the projects that involve the community?

12:24 Alan Davey: It takes between 6 and 12 weeks, depending on the amount applied for. Grants for the arts can be for anything, whether it's an individual composition or a wider community project.

ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Rebecca Rolf ‏@Rebecca_Rolf via Twitter - #ACElivechat do you feel the grants for the arts is readily accessible to those who could benefit from it? Can you do more to reach them?

12:25 Alan Davey: I want to make sure that Gfta IS as accessible as possible, where we know we have fewer applications or if there are particular art forms where we need to encourage more applications we have been holding workshops or using third party organisations to try to encourage applications. This is something we need to keep doing, as well as making sure that our processes are as user friendly as possible.

ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Musiko Musika @MusikoMusika via Twitter - #ACElivechat how would you describe ACE's vision of the musical future to today's 7 to 13 year olds playing in our ECCO orchestras?

Alan Davey: Part of our job is look after the artists of today as well as develop the artists of the future. The Arts Council has signed up to the National Plan for Music Education which has a clear vision which we support. All of our work in this area stems from the fact that we believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts. In fact this is one of the Arts Council’s key long-term goals for the arts which we are working towards. Last year we announced 122 new music education hubs which aim to ensure that every child aged 5-18 has the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument and to progress musically. We also announced four new In Harmony projects which aim to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities by using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making I hope that as we work to nurture interest and talent in music that many of the young people taking part in these projects will become the musicians of tomorrow. And once they progress to the next level the support is still there through our funding of a wide variety of music and musical organisations. For example, we recently launched our Music industry talent development fund which aims to help mid-career musicians progress to the next level. More information on that will be available in the coming months.

12:27 JLaB: So, would you have funded Kasper Holten's 'Juan' (had it not been Danish)? It fulfilled more of the ACE objectives than anything an opera house could ever do, yet it was a long form narrative film.

12:28 Alan Davey: Well, I don't make all of the decisions myself, but I'm sure we would have considered it on its merits.

Supshaw: As a young musician, artistic entrepreneur and dance company director, I'm wondering at what point it would be appropriate to apply for 'Grants for the Arts' funding for one particular project. We have had a number of successful performances with excellent reviews but are reaching the point where we will plateau without larger venues and festivals, etc. all of which will be made possible through an additional monetary injection necessary for hiring dance rehearsal space, hiring instruments, paying the professional dancers that want to work with and so on. My question is then a bit of a chicken and the egg one: which should come first, major industry recognition in order to be noticed by Grants for the Arts or the funding from the Arts Council that will then propel us further?

12:32 Alan Davey: You sound like you're at that crucial point in artistic development where you need some kind of helping hand. The best bet is to ring our Grants for the arts helpline and seek their advice on what you might apply for.

Jock: How do you feel about the executive board taking a large increase in salary while cutting 320 ACE staff?

Alan Davey: Remuneration Committee of National Council recommended that those Executive Directors who were taking on wider roles deserved some recognition of those additional responsibilities. Three Executive Directors were given a 4% increase that remuneration committee decided on based on market forces. For all of them, in total, it amounted to an extra £17, 000. For the record, we are cutting our Grant in aid administration by 50%, and 117.5 posts are being lost.

ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Shirley Burnham ‏@ShirleyBurnham via Twitter - #ACElivechat Mr Davey, there is much negative comment about @ACE_national 's Report on DIY libraries. Add adendum to your Report, why not?

Alan Davey: As I've said before, we believe the best library service is the one that is locally appropriate. We want any local authority who is considering a community managed library to have these guiding principles, so that they can make sure that this is the best decision for their local community, and that where it happens it's done in the right way.

12:40 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: sarfartist via chatroom - To be honest this feels like a safe PR exercise. Controlled. No sense of debate and no element of risk which might enable artists who are working and producing work without any ACE support. What artists really need now is a way to gain profile, marketing, visibility and for professional ACE people to track follow and nurture people who are working without any ACE funding. There are lots of them. ACE "gatekeepers" in the current world of technical production and distribution are increasingly irrelevant as are "production funds". Why are artists not explicitly "graded" in the same way they are when being assessed? How might you use this in a public and positive way?

12:41 Alan Davey: Interesting point. I do want to get that sense of open debate among artists in a mature and open way. It's a conversation I want to have in the next few years.

AC: The Unlimited programme did provide opportunities for some but we're still not well represented- will there be similar programmes in the future as it was structured and managed differently and that was part of its success.

12:42 Alan Davey: That's just what we're talking about now.

12:43 G-man: Alan Davey: Hi Alan, I noticed that Cafe Oto gets something like £100k in funding-some of which comes from the Arts Council. This seems a little high for a venue that makes profit from ticket sales, bar and food. Why don't the venues that put on songwriters and bands as opposed 'experiemental' acts get funding? liek the Brixton Windmill for example-they have 3/4 acts every night and is one of a hand full of London venues not promoting ' ay to play' shows. Is funding about Class? as Cafe Oto is very middle class.

Alan Davey: I've not been to Cafe Oto myself, but I love the Windmill. They choose their acts really well. One of the things we do is to fund promoters who enable venues like the Windmill to be able to put on interesting musicians.

12:43 Jock: Was it not the executive directors who voted the large increases to themselves and if not who in is the remuneration committee?

Alan Davey: The Executive Directors had nothing to do with this decision. Remuneration Committee, made up of our National Council members, made the decision.

12:44 Jebc: With the continued cuts in arts funding from central government and the greater reliance on Lottery funds through Grants for the Arts, do you think ACE's funding in general will become more open access? I think more competition for funds in the sector would be good - this builds on the way you approached your last round of NPO funding.

12:46 Alan Davey: As the proportion of Lottery Funded to Grant in aid increases we will have to think about how we use the different sources of funds. As you say, this will mean more application, as we did with the National portfolio process.

12:46 GaryG: Even though I appreciate the support libraries do receive from ACE, ACE have taken a couple of steps recently that are raising concerns: (1) The reduction in ACE support for libraries, including the removal of the Director of Libraries role (despite a recent ACE live chat proudly stating that experts had been brought over from MLA). (2) The recent report that gave the thumbs up to volunteer run libraries, despite the fact that many volunteers who are having to take over libraries are giving this idea the thumbs down. What reassurances can you provide that ACE are providing the support for libraries that they need?

Alan Davey: We're hoping to appoint a National Director for Libraries soon. To reassure you, we hope that in the new organisation we'll continue to support libraries in the right way. I answered your volunteer point in an earlier question.

12:49 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: Vektoria via chatroom - Hi Alan, What is the Arts Council doing to support recent graduates and young professionals working with peformance and video?

12:50 Alan Davey: We can support them through Grants for the arts, many practitioners started that way, but in employment terms the Creative Industries Employment programme, to support 6,500 high quality internships, will be coming on stream before the summer.

JLaB: On a different subject, what is the view of the ACE the influence of donors on the boards of major arts organisations? As such companies are increasingly encouraged to seek funds from philanthropy, is there not a danger that the "arms-length principle" will be replaced by rich people calling the shots?

12:51 Alan Davey: It is a danger, and there are lessons from the US on this, and we have to guard against it. That's why public money continues to be important.

Scottee: Will you be running any access workshops or talks for new companies to apply for NPO?

12:53 Alan Davey: We did briefings and made information available last time, and we'd do the same again. Of course, we don't know when the next national portfolio funding process will be.

12:53 KemiB: What challenges do you think the arts will face in forming community partnerships, for example libraries and theatre companies? And what steps will ACE take to support community partnerships in the arts?

12:54 Alan Davey: In the next year we're looking at how we support organisations to improve their resilience through new business models. It'll be part of the way we work in the new organisation, so watch this space.

12:55 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: George Mann ‏@so_georgemann via Twitter - #ACElivechat do rumours about ACE being scrapped by gov in next two years have any truth in them? Or will ACE still exist in 2015?

12:56 Alan Davey: My crystal ball is on the blink. These aren't rumours that I've heard, but I do think that having an arms length body that funds the arts in an accountable, fair and politically neutral way is important for the development of the arts and free speech.

12:56 #lostarts: Hi Alan. Some 62% of local authorities invest in art not otherwise supported by Arts Councils in England and Wales. As the ACE Chief Exec, what do you think the impact of local authority cuts like those proposed in Newcastle and Sheffield will be? Both long-term and short-term. Especially when arts are being cut from elsewhere - central Government, education - as well.

12:58 Alan Davey: I think it's good that culture is funded through the Arts Council and Local Authorities working together. There are loads of pressures on local Government and we need to work with Local Authorities and argue hard that culture matters to their local communities and is important for economic and social development. But the pressures on Local Government is the thing that worries me most at the moment. What's clear is that we can't take up the slack.

12:59 ACEmoderator: QUESTION FROM: James Page ‏@_JamesPage via Twitter - @ace__london What's the single most important charateristic that will enable arts organisations to succeed in the current economic climate ?

13:00 Alan Davey: Keep the art good, interesting, pushing boundaries, challenging us, helping us understand who we are. Don't give up on ambition. If we do that all is lost.

13:01 Alan Davey: Thanks everyone. If my fingers haven't managed to keep up with all your questions, sorry. See you next time.

13:02 ACEmoderator: Thanks everyone for taking part in today’s chat, if there wasn’t time to answer your question, there will be another opportunity to chat to Alan Davey - to stay informed visit our Live chat page or follow #ACElivechat on Twitter.


Thanks for answering my Qu Alan, good to know and to hear it from the top - & let me know if your crystal ball starts working again, could be useful ; )


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