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Notes from the Chair

Picture of Jane Wilson, Chair of AD:uk

Jane Wilson, Chair of AD:uk

First of all, it’s great to be back and writing the chair’s notes again, lots has happened in my absence, and I’m sure I’ll address much of it in weeks to come, but this week I’d like to give a personal response to the speech that Mark Ravenhill gave at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he wondered whether the arts might be better off without funding.

When I was a child, growing up on Teesside, I used to go to the Dovecote Arts Centre (now the Arc) in Stockton, for their Saturday morning art club. It was fantastic mix of creativity and anarchy, with, in my memory at least, hordes of kids running more or less feral round the theatre space.  Without using the words, I was introduced to performance, improvisation, communication, being in public.  As ever with the arts it’s impossible to demonstrate cause and effect, but I think of those experiences as transformative, in part at least responsible for my professional career, and they are certainly some of my most vivid and long lasting memories. At the time, I didn’t think or know about funding, but I know now that the Dovecote was supported at some level by the then Northern Arts, and that I certainly wouldn’t have been able to go if the centre was expecting to achieve ‘full cost recovery’ directly from the participants.

Whereas I think that Mark Ravenhill makes a good and interesting case, which I recommend you read, to re-visit the way we fund professional artists, I also think that we have thousands more compelling stories than mine that illustrate why access to the arts needs not simply to depend on the individual’s ability to pay.

Link to the speech: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/aug/03/mark-ravenhill-edinburgh-festival-speech-full-text.

Jane Wilson, Chair of AD:uk