Arts Council, England’s ‘Shaping the next 10 years’ report – An overview
Posted on 30th April 2019 at 16:00
From October 2018 to January 2019, Arts Council, England (ACE) held an open consultation across the country designed to listen to perspectives from across the sector and beyond. The aim of the study was to understand the challenges and opportunities, generate new ideas, and problem-solve together. The results of this report will inform the development of ACE strategy for the next ten years.
The consultation sought the views of a wide range of stakeholders. Arts organisations, museums and libraries of all scales as well as funders and policy makers, local authorities and children, young people and their parents and carers, were all involved in voicing their ambitions and concerns.
To engage with as wide a range of participants as possible, ACE ran an online platform. It also held a series of 37 workshops: 20 external sessions with 1,248 participants and 17 sessions for 197 Arts Council staff. Additional sessions focused on the views of children and young people up to the age of 25.
The consultation explored “the case for change”.
Six key areas were identified across the arts and culture sector:
Image taken from Arts Council Document
The online research findings demonstrated that over 70% of participants agreed that 5 out of the 6 areas listed in the image above are key issues. 95% of respondents agreed with the statements, “There are still widespread socio-economic and geographic variances in levels of engagement with publicly funded culture,” and, “Across the population there are significant differences in how ‘arts and culture’ are defined, understood and valued.”
53% of participants also felt that, “Many cultural organisations are retreating from innovation, risk-taking and sustained talent development.”
The report comments:
"Some respondents felt that artists and cultural organisations are committed to both innovation and talent development but, in the face of financial pressure and high levels of accountability, they need support in taking the sorts of risks that are essential to innovation. Conversely, some responses centred on the sector being bolder than many other industries and that historically the most significant and innovative art has happened during times of flux and uncertainty." ACE ‘Shaping the Next 10 Years’ Report
In undertaking the study, ACE aimed to hear feedback on its proposed priorities.
The top three priorities that emerged, as identified by participants, are:
The creative and cultural lives of all children and young people are recognised and nurtured (3rd)
A nation that supports and celebrates culture and creativity of every kind (2nd)
People from every background benefit from public investment in culture (1st)
Image taken from Arts Council Document
What is culture? What is creativity?
As is often the case when there is discussion about art, culture and creativity, the consultation threw up questions about what is meant by these terms.
The report states:
"There was some support for as broad a definition as possible, encompassing activities that are, or will be, relevant and accessible to everyone. It was recognised that continued flexibility will be necessary to meet the requirements of a population with changing and evolving interests."
One workshop participant commented:
"The Arts Council should broaden its definition of what arts and culture are – it should be fluid rather than fixed, and we should listen [to] what people think… rather than telling them."
Priority – People from every background benefit from public investment in culture
In discussion of the priority, “People from every background benefit from public investment in culture,” many participants agreed the importance of cultural organisations working together and with local communities to create and develop cultural experiences that involve a far wider range of people.
A key theme in discussion about this priority was equality of opportunity relating to provision of equal access for all the population to arts and culture. This included the importance of children having equal opportunities to experience art and culture, particularly through schools.
Other points identified here include:
Local, community or place-based activity
Levels of funding and investment
How culture is defined
The role of diversity or diverse perspectives in ensuring this outcome is met
The impact that arts and culture can have in areas such as health and wellbeing
How communications can be maximised to engage with the public and create a greater sense of relevance/ownership
The importance of data and research in helping to understand the issues within the sector, and in monitoring progress
Priority – A nation that supports and celebrates culture and creativity of every kind
In discussion of the priority, “A nation that supports and celebrates culture and creativity of every kind,” the workshops raised the concept of ‘everyday culture’ and covered discussion of both professional and amateur culture encompassing all communities, lifestyles, ages and levels of experience and quality. Key challenges were the equality of opportunity and advocacy.
"There should be national pride in the existence of great art, funded by public money, reaching those for whom it makes a difference. We all have hundreds of stories of great art inspiring children to speak for the first time, reconnecting elderly people with their communities, bringing happiness to newly arrived migrant families who feel isolated, creating a place for care leavers to develop a talent – publicly funded art shouldn’t always require a social outcome, but its value is not being properly advocated and I think the public are more sympathetic to this than politicians might think…" Quote from online participant
Other challenges identified included:
The role that specific investment programmes could have within this outcome
How data and evidence can be used to demonstrate the impact of the arts and culture
The importance of embedding cultural creative education within schools
That the ambition for high-quality work and excellence in the arts and culture should not be lost
Some respondents also noted the importance of creating new partnerships and collaborating with communities and existing local organisations.
Priority – The creative and cultural lives of all children and young people are recognised and nurtured
Perhaps, most importantly for those involved in arts education, the priority, “The creative and cultural lives of all children and young people are recognised and nurtured,” discussed the challenges of school curriculum including the impact of the EBacc and the focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) rather than STEAM.
The report states that the sessions with children and young people showed that respondents feel “strongly that there should be more opportunities and space for children and young people to realise their creative potential through better access to expertise, resources and inspirational activities for all.”
"Creative education is the future – what role can ACE play in this? [The] curriculum [is] not fit for purpose to equip creative thinkers for the future." Quote from online participant
Other areas discussed in relation to this priority include:
Listening to children and young people
The importance of highlighting to young people the viability of a career in the arts and cultural sector
The question of where young adults come under this outcome
The need to demonstrate the benefits of the arts and culture (whether to children and young people or parents)
The importance of partnerships in supporting a strong cultural offer
The development work that could be required to equip educators to teach creatively
The role of local authorities and Government within any work in this area
"Schools need to be engaged more with local cultural providers, for example: museums should host regular sessions with schools so that cultural institutions are embedded within the children’s minds from a young age." Quote from online respondent
To read the report in full visit Arts Council, England’s website.
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