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Notes from the Chair 9/1/12

First of all, and in case you hadn’t already picked this up, I was very pleased to see that Lorna Brown was awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours list. The kind of work we do, often behind the scenes ensuring that the arts can happen and that as many people as possible are involved, does not always make the headlines, and I’m sure that many of us prefer it that way, with the focus rightly on artists and participants, but it is lovely to see this level of recognition for one of our number, especially Lorna, who has contributed so much, not just at a national level through nalgao/ADuk, but also locally and regionally through her work in West Sussex and elsewhere. AD:uk would also like to congratulate Hilary Lane for her award of an MBE for her services to the arts in east Sussex.

 Secondly, it was also good to see the report from the Communities and Local Government Committee into the proposed National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and in particular their statement that “we see a compelling case for the definition of sustainable development to include a cultural dimension”. Our thanks need to go to Mhora Samuel of the Theatres Trust, who raised the profile of this issue at our 2011 conference, and who gave a very cogent account of the issues to the committee.  However, there is a still a great deal of work to do to and I will be attending a meeting later this week with representatives from a wide range of cultural organisations to ensure that our concerns are not lost.

 Finally, the latest release of the Taking Part Survey came out just before Christmas, and is available on the DCMS website here. This survey has been running since 2005 and whereas it can be difficult to see change over the short term, it is now starting to show some interesting changes over the last half decade, with, for instance, a statistically significant increases from 2005-6 to 2010-11 in: the percentage of volunteers volunteering in the arts (from 6.3% to 8.8%); the percentage of people attending museums and galleries (from 42.3 to 47.1%); and the percentage of people 65-74 and 75+ taking part in the arts (although the numbers are still lower than average, at 75% and 61.1% respectively.

 Overall, attendance in the arts (as measured by the survey) has remained steady since 2005-6 at around 77%.  As ever, these figures don’t and can’t tell us what lies behind the changes, but they do provide useful insights into the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves.
Happy New Year!
Jane Wilson
Chair of AD:uk
Tel: 01353 669022 Email: jane.wilson@adec.org.uk