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Notes from the Chair: 26th Sept

Last week we had the quarterly National AD:uk meeting – when the Regional Co-ordinators meet along with the Trustees.  These lively meetings are an excellent way for Regional Co-ordinators to share experiences and good practice around regional meetings and how they reach new members and new people on their patch. 

 As always, we were also joined by guests for an information exchange.  We were pleased to welcome Clive Little from ACE in Richard Russell’s absence, and Clive gave us a run down on news from Arts Council England. The integration of museum and library functions into ACE from MLA continues apace, with specialist officers now transferring and relationship managers in each region for museums and for libraries now in place.  You’ll have seen the press release regarding the new Renaissance funds as well, and a number of regions have held briefing meetings about museums and Renaissance, although sadly the planned event in the south east was cancelled.

 ACE will shortly be announcing details on other arts funds, including capital, Catalyst (to encourage philanthropy) and touring. This latter will include proposals to tour to ‘cold spots’, identified through Active People and NI11 data – although will require an active recipient or local ‘mover’ in some shape or another.  Details about strategic funding are also expected in October, and each area (that’s the super regions such as South West, West and East Midlands) is preparing an area view that strategic funding will relate to.  That was a bit of a surprise, but we understand the draft area strategic view will be available soon and no doubt local authorities will be happy to comment and help ACE build that local perspective. We’ll ask ACE for a bit more on that at the local authority liaison meeting next month.

 We also discussed progress on the agreements with the new National Portfolio Organisations and how ACE is looking to agree performance indicators that the organisations proposed through the application process and the ‘deliverables’ that will meet ACE’s ambitions within Great Art for Everyone.  There were some concerns expressed that local authority requirements might be pulling these organisations in a different direction from ACE, and Clive advised that anyone with concerns that this might happen should contact the appropriate ACE relationship manager.

 We were pleased to hear that Nick Pontefract who had been one of our key contacts at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had moved on to take up the private secretary role to Jeremy Hunt MP, the Secretary of State – and our congratulations to Nick.  Stephen Darke, our other DCMS stalwart, updated on a number of topics, including the revisions to the licensing acts.  AD:uk (in our previous guise as nalgao) had made many representations to the department  about the difficulties the licensing acts created and we welcome these revisions.

There was also a discussion about the National Planning Policy Framework, which as we have reported, is causing much heat in a number of quarters – not least for the lack of any mention of the arts and culture.   The consultation deadline ends on the 17th October, and AD:uk will be joining the Theatre Trust, Ixia, ACE and others in calling for this to be redressed.

 The DCMS has also commissioned Darren Henley to report on cultural education – a companion piece to his recent review of music.  In my last notes, I mentioned that education policy was causing concern about the loss of status for arts and creativity, and Michael Gove’s comments on the value of dance A-level for instance, add fuel to the view that arts education is in danger of returning to its Cinderella status.  Earlier this month Lord Puttnam, Patrick Stewart, Feargal Sharkey and others expressed their concerns that recent changes, including the ending of teaching grants for arts degrees, will undermine the UK’s economic strength in creativity and urged for policies that put creativity at the heart of our education system.  We wait to see how far the Henley review supports that case.

 Finally – and by no means least – we said a goodbye to David Brownlee.  David, currently the Chief Executive of Audiences UK will move on to the Theatrical Management Association and the Society of London Theatre.  David has always been a staunch supporter of AD:uk since his days with ACE and we wish him every success in his new post. 

 And on a really final note – I was greatly pleased and pretty amused to see Audience UK’s news this week promoting our own forthcoming conference A Process of Illumination, as an ‘excellent annual cocktail of thought-provoking debate and serious partying’.  What more could you ask?

Lorna Brown
Chair of Arts Development UK
Tel: 01243 756770, email: