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Note from the Chair 25th June 2012

This week I’m going to focus on our Creative Economies Seminar, which took place last week. For me, it marked a significant point in our transition from nalgao to Arts Development UK, as I felt we found an emphasis that highlighted the importance of new local government mechanisms, such as Local Enterprise Partnerships, but did so from a point of view of working with, rather than simply within, those structures.

Our first keynote speaker, Dr Tom Fleming highlighted the dangers of short term austerity planning, and this was a theme that continued throughout the day. The aspirations of Birmingham Creative City are a case in point: effective leadership, both from within the local authorities and from the arts sector, is enabling them to work through funding reductions at the same time as planning for a remarkable new development for the heart of the city. Dr Fleming also reminded us not to return to a ‘Swiss army knife’ role, offering to be the solution to any and all problems, even when we aren’t the best placed to do so. Here, work in Norfolk and Suffolk to position culture within the New Anglia LEP stood out: they have pinpointed their efforts on tourism, an economic area of huge significance to the LEP and one in which culture already plays a major role.

Our second keynote, Andrea Stark, Executive Director Arts Council England, provided a useful reminder about scale: our sector is dominated by small to medium size enterprises, and smaller scale, lower cost interventions can be just as important.  Andrea also highlighted the economic importance of the sector: we need to learn the language and talk confidently and effectively about that role.

I felt that the breakout sessions at the event provided practical and concrete examples of work on the ground, demonstrating how to respond in practical, concrete terms. In summary, for me, it was a hard-working day, with lots of new information and challenges to accepted ways of thinking; and also a positive day, as not just the speakers, but also everyone attending, shared knowledge and practical experiences.

It gives me great confidence for our next national event, which is our conference in York on 18 and 19 October. I look forward to seeing you there!

Jane Wilson
Chair of AD:uk
Tel: 01353 669022 Email: jane.wilson@adec.org.uk