As the Culture and Community Manager for Cambridge City Council I have been heavily involved in the set-up of our local cultural education partnership, My Cambridge. The partnership had started before the launch of the Cultural Education Challenge last October, and we had and still are working closely with our local bridge organisation, Norfolk and Norwich Festival Bridge.
The principle of a local cultural education partnership fits very closely with the aspirations and ethics underpinning Arts Development UK, working through arts and culture and building links with other sectors, to achieve wider local aspirations. These principles have been embedded in members’ work for as long as I can remember, not just in relation to education, but also health, community well-being, economic development and more. Many if not most of you will have been working with arts, culture and education as a core part of your work. Given this, a valid question might well be, what additional benefit comes from setting up a local cultural education partnership?
In my conference speech earlier in the year I talked about the increasing importance of local partnerships as a route to resilience. The better we can demonstrate the multiple ways in which arts and culture contribute to successful places, the harder it becomes to remove that value. Working locally is absolutely critical, but it can be very difficult to get local traction from a standing start.
You might already be part of a cultural education partnership that fits the bill, in which case it would be worth considering whether you want to formally acknowledge it as an LCEP. If there is not a local cultural education partnership in your area, and there are local priorities linked to young people, it is very much worth exploring how an LCEP could help meet that priority.
What local cultural education partnerships (LCEPs) provide are a recognisable, nationally visible model that is also entirely open to local adaptation and definition. At its most basic it provides a hook to demonstrate that there is a national interest, and that other places are taking cultural education seriously. As the multiplicity of LCEPs develop the opportunity to share learning and practice is rapidly developing: Arts Council England is working to ensure that this information is captured and shared nationally, and you also have the potential to share your experiences through regional ADUK meetings.
My note of caution is that this does require resource, initially the time to bring together potential partners, identify shared priorities, and agree high level outcomes, but then also the resources to develop and deliver the work to meet those outcomes. This does not always have to be additional or new resource and can include realignment of existing activity, which can be highly effective, but is absolutely dependent on a robust and resilience partnership.
In short, the Local Cultural Education Partnership is not a panacea, and developing one in your local area will take time, significant effort and financial resource, whether re-directed or new. It is however a very valuable starting point.
Jane Wilson; Chair of ADUK