Local authorities and culture

ACE and the MLA organised a day last week for local authorities who are working to increase engagement in the arts (and museums and libraries).

A panel discussion at the close included some of the leading thinkers (and doers) involved in local authority cultural provision.

Philip Mind from the LGA reminded us that people define themselves by their experiences and suggested local councils could be better at aligning themselves with the experiences they provide for local people.

In Martyn Allison from IDeA’s experience –  1/3 of local authorities have culture (relatively) well positioned within their service and LSP.  The factors that distinguish these are:

  1. Effective leadership
  2. Appropriate partnerships
  3. Activities relevant to partners (“not just doing what you’ve always done…”)
  4. Obtaining and disseminating evidence of impacts

I think he’s right – and I would extend the definition of partners to include  residents.

Tricia Kilsby from the Audit Commission’s view was that the most secure culture teams were those that were connected and responsive to their communities.

All very stimulating, as was Helen Ball, Head of Culture from Barnsley, who as well as putting it into practice  had the best accent of the day …

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