the next ten years for ACE

I have tried to enter the ‘conversation’ online about the next ten year stratergy but, to date, it feels like shouting in the dark. maybe themes and debate will come later. So for now – and not for the first time – i’m going to write this to find out what i think about what ACE might do over the next ten years.

First. change the name – from Arts Council to Culture Council. not only does this better express what ACE actually does it is a much more democratic term. People often use the term ‘arty’ pejoratively to dismiss the arts as ‘not for me’. No-one does that around the term culture. Everybody recognises that culture is part of all of us, even if its a word not regularly used. Its also worth remembering that it is the Department of Culture, Media and Sport not Department of Arts, Media and Sport. there is an opportunity to reframe the work we do around shaping and contributing to what makes us us.¬† I think if we were to collectively frame what we do around a concern for the with quality of peoples lives rather than one around the creative industries, we would go a long way to increasing our relevance and usefulness.

Secondly, the current mission is ‘Great Art for Everyone.’ there are a number of problems with this. firstly who are the arbiters of ‘Great’. It feels like the judgement is based on an outmoded view of high and low art, one couched in judgement and excellence. why can’t we just say Art and and not put a value judgement¬† there from the start? the sports council doesn’t say good sport for all’.

But the word that is least useful is ‘for’. ‘Great art for everyone’ articulates a missionary model in which the art goes to people. Much better would be ‘from’ or ‘by’….

Next, get rid of art form departments. Of course employ specialists that bring particular expertise but have them working more collegiately. (this is happening more and more but we are still too preoccupied with ‘the dance sector, or the visual arts sector). most art is combined art anyway. people express who they are in all sorts of ways. through the songs we sing at football matches to stories we tell our children to the poems we say to at our funerals, to the way we shape our gardens and the food we cook for others. we might not always invest in these moments but we should accept that they spring from the same place.

how about making it an option on every single project grant for a additional % – say 10% – can be exclusively used to improve access to the work so that this becomes a natural and realisable element of every piece of new art.

thats it for now. i bet now i have got these things out of my head i will think of other things …

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