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Our Cultural Commons: A national conversation about local culture has just begun

ADUK-green-A-blockVoluntary_ArtsWhere was your first cultural experience? And where will be your last? Chances are the answer to both those questions will be ‘close to home’.

Our Cultural Commons is a new national conversation about local cultural infrastructure – what works, what doesn’t, how and where it thrives – and how it could reach its full potential. The conversation was started by Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK, but now everyone with an interest in culture is invited to join in and explore how local cultural provision can be made better.

In the coming years, most of us will be able to experience the arts and cultures of the world virtually. Some of us will also travel to experience them in person. But all of us will grow up and grow old experiencing and participating in the arts and culture, locally. The rapid pace of change surrounding all our local cultural spaces, including changes to local government, and the rapid digitization of the wider cultural world, means that previous models of local cultural planning no longer provide support effectively.

Chair of Voluntary Arts, Peter Stark had this to say about Our Cultural Commons: “Our cultural life – first and last – is local. Our cultural commons should be places where joy and grief can be shared; wellbeing, concern, caring, kinship and respect are promoted; happiness and laughter, wonder and curiosity and learning are everyday experiences. Despite, or perhaps in response to, a harsh economic climate, exciting new collaborative solutions are already emerging. There is now an urgent need to build on this work to ensure that local cultural opportunities remain integral to our lives and those of future generations”

Jane Wilson, Chair of Arts Development UK said: “We are in one of those rare moments where change is not just likely, but inevitable, and ways of supporting local cultural infrastructure, which have built up over many years, are not going to remain the same. Although this is a significant challenge it also provides us with a real opportunity, to look again at how we understand, support and nurture the richest possible cultural lives for all our communities.”

To read more about Our Cultural Commons, sign up for updates or get involved, visit www.ourculturalcommons.org

Welcome to Arts Development UK!

What is AD:UK?
Arts Development UK is a professional association for people working in arts and cultural development in England and Wales.

Its values are that AD:UK should be:ADUK-green-A-block
• Creative and collaborative
• Forward thinking and flexible
• Professional and passionate.

Who should be a member?
Anyone working in a role which encourages the development of arts and cultural activities to improve quality of life, aspiration and opportunities for people in places and communities.

This includes individuals such as artists, policy-makers, managers, officers, consultants/freelance and organisations eg community, arts, heritage, museums and libraries and local authorities.

What are the key benefits of membership?
• Access to member areas of this website with special content
• A weekly e-zine (cited as the ‘go to’ source of information for policy updates, opportunities and professional knowledge)
• Advocacy for individuals and the industry sector
• Annual conference and seminars
• CPD accreditation through the Professional Fellowship Programme
• Access to a UK-wide network of experienced professionals (Skills & Knowledge Bank)
• Up-to-the minute information and analysis
• A collective strength for the protection of arts and culture in UK society

There are many more – please follow this link for a full description of AD:UK.

How do I join AD:UK?
Members are welcomed as individuals or organisations. Membership details are available here.

The website
Anyone can access this website as either a member or non-member of AD:UK. There is plenty of interesting content to read. However, to get the full benefit, you will need to be a paid-up AD:UK member to access all areas, such as member directories and key documents. You will need an AD:UK access key to view restricted pages which you will receive on joining AD:UK as a paid member.

You can also sign up  to receive a weekly digest of posts from this site, using the link on the left, whether you are an AD:UK member or not.

Join ADUK now for 2014/15 – fees frozen at last year’s levels

April 2014 sees the start of Arts Development UK’s new membership year and we are pleased to announced the membership fees have been fixed at last year’s levels.

Meaning that:

  • Personal membership for individuals working in the arts or creative industries can join at £80+VAT (£96 total)
  • Standard Organisational membership is just £175 + VAT (£210) for organisations  through a named officer
  • Group Organisational membership is available where more than one person in an organisation wants to join: Group membership for up to 5 named officers is £275 + VAT (£330) and for up to 10 named officers is £300 + VAT (£360)
  • Students and people in between jobs can join for £42 + VAT (£50.40)

Group Organisational Membership offers the best value for money for larger organisations where more than one person wants to become a member,  saving £75+VAT on two standard organisational memberships.

Becoming an AD:UK member gets you access to:

Professional development opportunities

  • Development of skills and professional competencies
  • Structured Induction & Buddying programmes
  • A Professional Fellowship Programme available to all members
  • A new Skills and Knowledge Bank, with opportunities for skills and knowledge exchange with members across the UK


  • Regional Groups, which offer support, study visits, information and skills exchange
  • Opportunities to gain valuable management experience
  • A major annual conference and national seminar programme – this year’s national conference will be taking place at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff on 16th & 17th October and members are able to register at a discounted rate.

Research, Information & knowledge resources

  • The weekly E-Zine with headline news and a weekly assessment of fundraising and grants available for the sector (which may otherwise cost over £200 in individual subscriptions to external sources)
  • A growing range of IT based information and knowledge resources including our web-site: www.artsdevelopmentuk.org with a wide variety of information resources, Twitter and Facebook feeds and on-line forums to exchange news and views.

We also organise the annual national local authority arts investment survey which is a national indicator for the state of the sector and useful lobbying tool.

If you want to find out more about member benefits you can download the 2014 Arts Development UK Membership Benefits form or get in touch at artsdevuk@aol.com

Arts Development UK Conference: Arts for Life

Cardiff_Bay_WMC16th & 17th October 2014
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Arts for Life is the event for those who develop and deliver the arts locally and nationally. AD:UK’s 2014 conference will showcase and explore a number of the key areas currently impacting on the sector and its workforce.

The fair and equitable distribution of public investment in the arts has become a hot topic. Peter Stark, the keynote speaker on the opening day, is one of ‘the gang of three’ whose edgy and challenging research on Arts Council England’s public investment patterns (see www.theroccreport.co.uk/ ) grabbed the headlines last October. Be prepared for a passionate and controversial speaker.

How can the arts genuinely engage and support vulnerable people? A range of speakers will be presenting case studies that do just that. Welsh, English and Irish examples are drawn from work taking place in housing, with looked after children, older people with dementia, the homeless and those with mental health issues. These extraordinary projects make the case for the role of the arts in socADUK-green-A-blockial care and community development to help inform and inspire similar work elsewhere.

The need to identify funding opportunities and then secure the resources on offer is a perennial topic that affects everyone. Arts for Life provides a range of excellent advice from how to develop a fundraising strategy to targeted approaches to specific provision, such participatory arts and creative learning. Help with accessing newer opportunities, such crowd funding, is also on offer, as is advice on the new cultural programme from Europe.

Arts for Life has been planned and will be delivered by Arts Development UK, working in partnership with a range of experienced partners. This annual event provides an opportunity to reflect on best practice, develop skills and connect with colleagues, old and new, who share a passion for the arts and its impact on people and places. As an added bonus, Arts for Life coincides with a major visual arts event. ‘The Cardiff Contemporary Festival promises to be one the biggest contemporary visual arts festivals ever to have taken place in Wales. Between October 3rd and November 9th, venues and public spaces throughout the city centre, Cardiff Bay and neighbouring areas, Cardiff will come alive with more than 24 new contemporary visual art commissions, three artists in residence and a programme of hundreds of artistic events delivered by festival partners’. www.cardiffcontemporary.co.uk

ArtWorks, Arts Professional and a-n, the Artists Information Company are sponsoring the 2014 conference and the event is supported by Lottery funding from Arts Council Wales. Please note that a limited number of training bursaries are also available. For more information on the conference, visit www.artsdevelopmentuk.org or contact AD:UK at artsdevuk@aol.com (or ring 01269 824728).

AD:UK London Regional Meeting: 22nd Sept

ADUK-green-A-blockThe next AD:UK London Regional meeting is taking place from 2.00 (for a 2.15pm start) at London Councils on Southwark Street on Monday 22 September (see http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/aboutus/contact.htm).

The programme is as follows:
• 2pm for 2.15pm start
• 2.15 – 2.30pm: Update on Arts Development UK news (Chris Gibbon)
• 2.30 – 3.15pm: Chris Unitt, founder of digital agency, One Further. Chris will talk about Digital audience engagement: what it is, what it involves, and where arts organisations are/are not managing to do it well.
• 3.15 – 3.45pm: Tea and coffee break
• 3.45 – 4.30pm: Cimeon Ellerton, Audience Finder Project Manager for the Audiences Agency. Audience Finder is an ambitious initiative to encourage innovation in audience development. Cimeon will discuss the programme in general and what local authorities should know about it in particular.
• 4.30pm onwards: Networking

Attendance at the event is free for ADUK members. To confirm your attendance please email: chris@bop.co.uk.

Our Cultural Commons – Initial scoping: a call for examples & case studies

Voluntary_ArtsLogoVoluntary Arts and Arts Development UK are both organisations committed to supporting local cultural and creative activity. They have joined together to initiate a national conversation about how communities and organisations can and do collaborate and work together to ensure effective and sustainable cultural spaces, networks, facilities and resources for themselves. They want to start this conversation by providing an outline account of the range of partnerships that currently exist, the ways people have found that work and any new opportunities people are seizing. A selection of accounts will be featured on a web based resource and be added to as the conversation grows.

To start the whole project off, Sue Isherwood, the consultant who has been engaged to undertake this scoping exercise, would like to have examples you may know in your own localities, whether well-established or is just starting out. It is important that we can grasp the fullest range of community action and support so we are looking for examples from all the nations of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, from urban and rural localities, from large and small, from rich and poor, from diverse communities and from those of faith and of none. We are particularly interested in places:

  • Where volunteers and professionals are collaborating to mutual benefit
  • Where new partnerships have been forged, with local health services and/or across the cultural sector for example with libraries/museums, sports centres, parks, adult education
  • Where local authorities have responded imaginatively to challenges to traditional support models
  • Where ideas have come from a recognition of the existing strengths of local resources – human and material
  • Where people have thought about how opportunities can be made sustainable.

The timescale for this initial scoping of the richness of local cultural collaborations is tight and Sue would like your suggestions by Friday 19 September. If you would like to submit a response for consideration, please:

  • Send no more than 250 words describing your example and what makes it exciting.
  • Include your name, position in/relationship to your example and your telephone number
  • A link to any website for your example
  • Include who are the partners, how you are constituted, if at all.
  • Why you do it and what outcomes you have you achieved/hope to achieve in the next 2 years.

On behalf of VA and AD:UK, Sue intends to examine the range of information given, summarise the scope and range and select a small number to follow up. There will only be time to ask for longer write ups of a few examples by the first deadline of mid-October, but we expect to explore and feature many more over the new couple of years, so do not hesitate to share your knowledge and experience. Please send responses by 19 September to Sue Isherwood, C3 Cultural Consultancy. email sue@creative3.co.uk or tel 01749 871110.

AD:UK Local Authority Arts Investment Survey Report 2014

LogoArts Development UK are pleased to announce the release of our eleventh consecutive tenth annual local authority arts investment survey, undertaken to assess the level of arts investment for 2014/15. The survey was undertaken in spring/summer 2014 to assess the level of arts spending forecast for 2014/15 with an online survey sent to all authorities in England and Wales. 65 responses were received, representing 27% of all authorities in England and Wales with an arts service, a comparable response rate to the survey response in 2013. The survey shows continued and significant changes to budgets in local authority arts spending. Out of 353 authorities in England and 22 in Wales, and as of August 2014, 136 local authorities have no dedicated arts officer and have no direct arts service. This represents 36.2% of all authorities in England and Wales. The remaining 63.8% have services that are vulnerable to cuts and like the rest of the local authority cultural sector the majority are operating in reduced financial circumstances.

A full version of the report is available here: ADUK LA Arts Investment Survey Report 27-8-14

As in 2013, the Survey is again in association with Arts Council of Wales and demonstrates AD:UK’s growing relationship with local authorities in Wales as well as England, and delivering our ambition to broaden the membership and our activities in both countries. The survey has enabled a comparison of past trends and focussed on relevant contemporary issues such as financial issues, priority targets, partnerships and the relationship with other bodies including the Arts Councils in England and Wales. Responses to the 2014 survey reveal a challenging picture of the arts in local communities.

Jane Wilson, Chair of AD:UK stated: “The continuing pattern of change, as more and more authorities outsource services and re-purpose remaining staff into more general roles, highlights the increasing need to consider how these new patterns of operation will effect capacity to understand and plan for local cultural needs over the long term.”

Tony Witton, Arts & Cultural Services Manager with Kent County Council and Chair of AD:UK’s Research and Advocacy Working Party & Trustee comments: “This year’s survey is showing a marked increase in collaborative working which is drawing money in from other sectors such as health, education and regeneration. There is a danger that this is masking the true situation and we should be preparing ourselves for a seismic shift in next year’s figures. On the other hand, we may be looking at a new trend which will see levels of investment in the arts maintained or perhaps begin to grow as local authorities support the sector to broaden its funding base and become more business-like.”

The survey continues to be important and we are pleased that so many people took the time despite shortages of staff and time. The 2014 survey shows what is important to arts services currently provided by local authorities with the main summary of findings as below :

Continue reading AD:UK Local Authority Arts Investment Survey Report 2014

Arts Development UK Conference: Arts for Life

Cardiff_Bay_WMC16th & 17th October 2014
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
The programme for the annual ADUK conference, which this year is taking place at the WMC in Cardiff Bay on 16th and 17th October is now confirmed. ADUK conferences offer a lively mix of keynote presentations, breakouts, study tours, skills and knowledge exchanges and discussion groups. Pick and mix to create the conference recipe for you from a packed menu including;

  •   New! Information takeaway case study sessions give a flavour of the big issues
  •   New! Zest for Arts: a facilitated open forum for debate and discussion
  •   New! Training sessions this year at the conference


You can download an electronic brochure and booking form here:

Please upload and remember to save your booking details as a different file or the booking details will not be saved, then send your booking form to artsdevuk@aol.com.

We are also using Eventbrite as one of the booking systems, so delegates paying by credit card will have that opportunity this year (please see the link at the bottom of this post to be directed to Eventbrite).

We are also delighted to announce that for a 4th year running, prices for the event will remain the same.

Conference speakers confirmed include Peter Stark OBE, Professor Dai Smith (Chair of Arts Council Wales), Laura H Drane, Paul Bristow (ACE), Carys Wynne (ACW), Philip Deverell (Creative Scotland), Jayne Knight (Suffolk CC), Sinéad O’Reilly (Offaly CC), Sally Staples (E Sussex CC), Lucia Masundire (Leicestershire CC), Henrietta Norton (a-n), Mike Hoskin (Dorset CC), Mark Pettit (Cabinet Office), Shonagh Ingram (Bolton at Home), Rick Bond (The Complete Works), Judy Wasdell (Wales Assembly Government), Douglas Noble (Live Music Now), Lisa Rosetti & Liz McGrady (Positive Lives) and Caroline O’Neil and Ruth Ganault (Arts Connect & RCT CBC).

For ADUK members this event is CPD Certified, offering 5 credits for every full day’s attendance in the ADUK Professional Fellowship programme.

ArtWorks, Arts Professional and a-n, the Artists Information Company are sponsoring the 2014 conference and the event is supported by Lottery funding from Arts Council Wales. Please contact ADUK for more information on artsdevuk@aol.com or ring 01269 824728.

Eventbrite - Arts Development UK Annual Conference 2014: Arts for Life

ADUK Yorkshire & the NE Regional Meeting: 17th Sept

LogoThe next ADUK Yorkshire & the NE Regional meeting is due to take place on the 17 September at The Hepworth in Wakefield. An agenda is currently being developed and if you would like to contribute an item, please contact marynash@barnsleycivic.co.uk. Please note that Mary has now changed jobs and is now the Sales & Marketing Manager at The Civic in Barnsley, but will continue to act as one of our 2 regional coordinators.

The first half of the meeting will be restricted to ADUK members only, but will then be opened up for those working in Arts Development within Yorkshire and North East local authorities to attend. The agenda so far includes:
• 11am – Tour and talk on Hepworth
• 12.15pm – Introduction from Mary & Portia / Update on ADuk [working lunch - attendees to bring own]
• 1pm – Working with your local LEP (Deborah Egan)
• 1.45pm – EU funding (C Jankowski)
• 2.30pm – Refreshment Break [MEETING NOW OPEN TO NON-MEMBERS]
• 3.15pm – Update from ACE North (Pete Massey)
• 4pm – Good news updates from the region.
• 4.30pm – CLOSE

For further information please contact: marynash@barnsleycivic.co.uk or portia.simpson@york.gov.uk.

Our Cultural Commons: a joint initiative from ADUK & Voluntary Arts

LogoVoluntary_ArtsWorking in collaboration with Arts Development UK, Voluntary Arts is seeking a consultant on a freelance basis to undertake some initial mapping and scoping to lay the ground for a major national conversation. At the end of September 2014, the two UK-wide organisations that specifically support and represent local creative cultural activity, Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK, will be launching a major new initiative to:
• collect evidence of existing innovative local collaborative practice to sustain and develop local cultural infrastructure and then promote best practice
• provide a space for discussion of potential solutions to the problems facing local cultural infrastructure and organisation and the debate on the nature of the cultural commons that we aspire to in the future
• empower and support the voice of those ‘local’ ambitions in debates on future national cultural policies, structures and funding.

Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK will:
• launch Our Cultural Commons as a UK and Ireland-wide ‘debate’ at the end of September 2014
• manage an online debate to collect evidence of existing innovative local collaborative practice to sustain and develop local cultural infrastructure and provide a space for discussion of potential solutions to the immediate problems faced by local cultural infrastructure
• run a series of roundtable discussions, ‘town hall meetings’ and other events as part of the UK and Ireland-wide debate
• organise a major conference in June 2015

The contract
The main task is to undertake an initial mapping and scoping exercise to gather, collate and edit input from Arts Development UK members, as well as Voluntary Arts staff and advisers (across the UK and Republic of Ireland). We want to collect a range of models of innovative local collaborative practice to sustain and develop local cultural infrastructure, including examples from urban, rural, prosperous, disadvantaged and diverse communities – identifying local examples that could be used in influencing national cultural policy, structures and funding. The task will involve a period of research and information-gathering, follow-up by phone, and analysis, to create a summary document detailing the overall findings and identifying potential case studies. Several of these case studies will then be selected by Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK, to be developed by the consultant for online publication. The consultant will work closely with the Chair of Voluntary Arts, Peter Stark OBE, and the Chair of Arts Development UK, Jane Wilson, who are jointly leading the Our Cultural Commons initiative.

The contract will deliver:
• An initial mapping and scoping of emerging new models of local cultural infrastructure and identification of potential case studies
• The development of case studies, selected by Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK, in support of innovative and emerging models for local cultural infrastructure, to be published online to support a more visible launch of a national conversation about this in autumn 2014
• Advice, expertise and information gathering to support Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK’s preparation for the national conversation

The contract will be managed through direct reporting to Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Voluntary Arts.

Further practical details:

• Fee and expenses: £4250 (inclusive VAT), with three payments of 30% on commencement, 40% at the midway reporting point with the Chief Executive, and 30% after completion.
• We anticipate the contract may require approximately 10-12 days’ work over a 6-week period.
• Submission: by email, CV and two page covering letter (deadline: 5pm on Friday 8 August).
• Appointment: in mid-August 2014.
• Submission: by end of September 2014.

Applying for this freelance contract
Please submit your application (CV and two page covering letter) by 5pm Friday 8 August at the latest. We prefer electronic submissions, sent to lindsey@voluntaryarts.org. Paper applications should be addressed to Lindsey Jackson, Voluntary Arts, Ground Floor, 121 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9PH.

For an informal, confidential discussion about the contract please contact Robin Simpson,
Voluntary Arts Chief Executive, on 01525 288067 or email robin@voluntaryarts.org. You may also find it useful to visit the Voluntary Arts website at: www.voluntaryarts.org.

Please find a more detailed brief for the contract here: OurCulturalCommons-ConsultancyOpportunity

Good luck with your application.

Arts Development UK Advocacy & Research Group is looking for new members

LogoADUK are developing a new working party to assist us in the development of a new advocacy and research programme. This will serve three major purposes:
• to enable us to be more responsive to the research needs of our members
• to enable us to gather and participate in national research programmes and projects, and
• to represent and advocate on behalf of the arts development sector at a national level.
The Working party will also oversee continuing research programmes, including the annual local authority arts investment survey, which is currently underway.

We need new members for the working party from our membership, and people that can help us to continue to develop stronger advocacy and research strands in our annual programme. If you would like more information about the working party, or would like to volunteer to join us at our first meeting on 8th August in London from 13.30 – 16.00, please call 01269 824728 or email Pete Bryan at artsdevuk@aol.com.

Public Services: The value of cultural commissioning national seminars

LogoA range of presentations from the 2 recent national seminars on cultural commissioning are now available to download and share. The presentations are included in the Resources section of the website and you are also able to access them through a hot button on the front page of our website at www.artsdevelopmentuk.org. We also intend to include audio downloads of the keynote speeches soon, so watch this space for more information.