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 …

GLA Culture ‘direction of travel’

At a consultation session for Waltham Forest Borough Council’s emerging cultural strategy, Tom Campbell from the GLA updated on the direction of travel for the Mayor’s emerging cultutral strategy, following on from the publication of  The Cultural Metropolis. He told the audience it was still early stages and the final cultural strategy is likely to be published in Summer 2010. Currently the main themes are:

No compromise on excellence – maintenance of existing investment

Patchiness of provision – ‘access to excellence’ – including a special Outer London Commission

Education and young people

Promotion of the city to Londoners

Public Realm

Cultural Planning Toolkit

Just heard about the new culture and sport planning toolkit which, for the first time, brings people working in the built environment and those working in culutral agencies together. Developed by the Living Places Partnership it sounds like a must read for anyone involved in culture and regeneration.

More details are here and thanks to John Harrison at the MLA for news of this.

Sarah Boiling, an introduction


I’m Sarah Boiling, Strategic Projects Manager. This means I look after large scale projects, usually involving a group of organisations working together to experiment, learn or share experiences. Some of the things I’m working on right now include consultation with outer London venues about their audience development challenges; exploring how festivals and outdoor events gather and use visitor information and organising a professional development programme called Reach for local authority arts officers (with our colleague Richard Watts from people make it work).

This evening I’m off to an event organised by Create KX  – who do some great work bringing together and supporting the creative and cultural industries around Kings Cross.

In 2009 you’ll be seeing a lot of…

clip_image002…Young People going to the theatre for FREE! ACE Audience Segmentation. Cultural Olympiad Projects. Ni 11: Local Authorities seeking to increase the number of people engaged in culture. Discussion about the effects of the global financial crisis etc. etc. and as Client Services Director my job is to work with organisations to make sense of all this, seize the opportunities or use the information, so that we can develop relationships with more/new/different audiences.