Together with hundreds of other arts professionals I was at the State of the Arts conference last week. A number of the discussions were better than last year, and I liked the format of the first session with the audience tasked to answer and devise a question at their round table.
I lucked out for this, as I had Andrew Nairne and Laura Dyer from ACE, Jo Healy from Photographers Gallery and Gavin Stride from Farnham Maltings at my table – so we had a great discusson. Our answer to the question ‘what needs to change’ – Arts organisations need to listen to their audiences.
I found the parallel panel Where are the new audiences a frustrating experience - the panel members weren’t well placed to address the question and despite the chair’s best efforts, the audience contribution didn’t really get us anywhere.
Back to some positives – Deborah Bull from the ROH was great talking about how we need to place audiences and artists at the heart of what we do, and I like Phil Redmond’s trajectory for arts orgnisations to
1st – survive
3rd – become self aware
Plus he had a wonderful John, Paul, George and Ringo response… finishing with his prefered philosphical response from George that all things must pass…
Note to orgnisers -
Next year, I’d like to see fewer politicians on the panels (5 was too many, and 2 on the same panel the kiss of death) as this led to a not very sophisticated political point scoring style of debate.
Please bring back Matthew Taylor, who is a brilliant chair and John Knell who effortlessly combines being clever with being clear.