What Next…? Now You…?
Last Friday Alan Rivett and I attended a meeting at The Young Vic in London entitled ‘What Next?’ An event to ask the question: what next for arts funding?’. On the way home I began to think about the conversations that Ed and I have been opening up with you our audience, and I felt that it was important to talk to you about this.
The event was hosted by Michael Boyd, Richard Eyre, Shreela Ghosh, Tony Hall, Jude Kelly, Akram Khan, Judith Knight, David Lan, Richard Mantle, Sandy Nairne, Anthony Sargent, Charles Saumarez Smith, Jenny Sealey, Alistair Spalding, Gavin Stride, Kenneth Tharp and David Whelton – many of whom also spoke eloquently on the subject. If you want to watch just click here where you can also read a letter that the event hosts sent to the Prime Minister. It’s worth a look…
The ‘What Next?’ event was not a campaign launch but rather an attempt to open a space for the hundreds of people who attended to express their concerns and begin a dialogue about possible ways forward. The point was made that as the debate around culture in this country focuses more and more on its potential contribution to the economy (presumably trying to speak to the Coalition in their own language) there is a danger that an essential value of art, a means by which people and societies achieve their full human potential, is in danger of being sidelined.
Everyone understands that in the short term cuts to public investment in the arts are inevitable and no one was arguing that the arts are more important than the NHS, than education, than policing or any of the other essential public services. Everyone has to tighten their belts now – understood – but as people working in, and passionate about the arts we want reassurance that the 2011-2013 levels of funding are the result of economic pragmatism and not an indication of what the future holds in terms of how the arts’ phenomenal contribution to society is valued.
The organisers of “What Next?” felt it was urgent to raise these ideas with colleagues working across the cultural sector and, together, to communicate our feelings about the future to Government. I feel that it is also important to raise these ideas with the visitors of the Arts Centre last year (over 250,000 people). Last Friday, some truly inspiring statements were made by people whose lives had been profoundly affected by the arts, people of all ages and from all walks of life. I want to invite you to get in touch and to… well… I don’t know really… tell us what you think? Share your views? Tell us a story about the way the arts (here or anywhere else) have made a difference to you?
Simply, this is an invitation to join the dialogue. In the coming months, and in the wake of Arts Council announcements, I can imagine that we will be putting our case for public investment in arts funding quite a lot – whatever it is, big or small, we’d like your voice to be part of this debate.
You can reach Ed and I on this blog or you can grab us for a chat if you see us in the building. Please do speak up, even if you don’t agree, I believe that the quality of debate that we have around this issue will shape the cultural heritage that we leave behind us…
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Vanessa Oakes at 11:13am on Wed 6th Apr 2011