Here is the latest ACE policy statement:
Arts Council England
Ambitions for the arts - 2003-2006
In the summer of 2002, after a period of radical reform, a new Council of the Arts Council of England was appointed. This is the Council’s manifesto for the years from 2003 to 2006. It sets out our ambition, to promote the arts at the heart of our national life.
This is the start of a new era of significant expansion for the arts in England. The financial case for the arts is being won with Government. In the last spending round, we achieved a major increase in public investment in the arts. Now we intend to capitalise on that success by backing the country’s artistic talent and winning further support for the arts.
It is our central belief that the arts have power to transform lives, communities and opportunities for people throughout the country.
From 2003 to 2006 we will:
· prioritise individual artists
· work with funded arts organisations to help them thrive rather than just survive
· place cultural diversity at the heart of our work
· prioritise young people and Creative Partnerships
· maximise growth in the arts
as well as creating a modern and progressive Arts Council.
The Arts Council and ‘the arts’
We will adopt a more modern definition of the arts, one that is open to current trends in emerging (and often challenging) arts practice, in arts and technology, and in breaking down the boundaries between art forms, and between the arts and other disciplines.
We will be unabashed about excellence in the arts. By excellence, we mean the highest possible achievement, not a value system placed on one group by another.
We will take a contemporary, international approach to the arts. We will promote our artists internationally, encourage international exchange and co-production, and do all we can to ensure that audiences and artists in this country benefit from the best of the arts from outside the UK.
We will argue that being involved with the arts can have a lasting and transforming effect on many aspects of people’s lives. This is true not just for individuals, but also for neighbourhoods, communities, regions and entire generations, whose sense of identity and purpose can be changed through the arts.
We will create more opportunities for people to experience and take part in life-changing artistic experiences, through:
· making, doing and contributing
· watching, viewing, listening and reading
· performing, playing and publishing.
We believe that access to the arts goes hand in hand with artistic excellence. Participation, contribution and engagement in the arts are the bridge between access and excellence.
That bridge is especially crucial in a society which is itself subject to ongoing change: more culturally and ethnically diverse; more educated and informed but also more distracted and cacophonous.
Placing artists at the centre
The artist is the ‘life source’ of our work. In the past, we have mainly funded institutions. Now we want to give higher priority to the artist.
We can do this indirectly through training, legislative change, or in stimulating the economy for artists. Or we might provide direct assistance through more funding, or help with spaces to work, with equipment, time, or travel and opportunities for international exchanges.
We believe artists, at times, need the chance to dream, without having to produce. We will establish ways to spot new talent; we will find ways to help talent develop; we will encourage artists working at the cutting edge; we will encourage radical thought and action, and opportunities for artists to change direction and find new inspiration.
The arts provide spaces to explore differences. The results can be greater understanding and tolerance or, at their best, a sense of shared excitement and celebration of the miraculous richness and variety of cultural identity and endeavour.
We want cultural diversity to be a central value in our work, running through all our programmes and relationships.
The term ‘cultural diversity’ can be interpreted in many different ways. We will take the broadest interpretation – as meaning the full range and diversity of the culture of this country – but with a particular focus on race and ethnic background.
We can achieve much in cultural diversity through persuasion, illustration and by identifying and sharing good practice. But we also need to take positive action if we are to share our riches and achieve greater equality of opportunity. We will at the very least make more funding available specifically for culturally diverse arts. We will also take steps to change the employment profile, governance and activities of both the Arts Council and the funded sector.
Our relationship with arts organisations
Most of our funding will continue to go to our portfolio of ‘regularly funded organisations’.
We are looking for a new, grown-up relationship with arts organisations; one that is based on trust, not dependency. We will expect hopes, aspirations and problems to be shared openly with us. We consider this new relationship to be fundamentally important to the future of the subsidised arts.
Arts organisations provide the foundation for the arts in this country. Because of this, these organisations must play a leadership role in terms of artistic innovation and experimentation, as well as in how they are managed and governed. They are crucial to all our priorities and we will ask them to make a major contribution to our ambitions in cultural diversity.
At the same time, we will not ask them to take on any agendas that are not consistent with their fundamental purpose and ambition. We want to lighten rather than add to their burden.
We want a new relationship with arts organisations based on mutual trust. We have changed, and will change more, but they must also.
We will be fair in what we expect of organisations. We will help provide training for their employees and we will help to produce more cultural managers and leaders for the future. We will help organisations make the most of their capacity, but we will not ask them to do more than their funding allows.
In return, we expect arts organisations to be open and clear in their dealings with us. We expect them to be well managed and to deliver using our investment. We want them to thrive and not just survive. But we will exercise the right to withdraw our investment from those who repeatedly mismanage or fail to deliver.
The arts and young people
We recognise the transforming power of the arts in relation to young people. We value the wealth of arts and education activity that has taken place and will continue to take place in schools and other settings up and down the country. We see Creative Partnerships as a highly valuable extension of our previous arts and education work, and embrace the Creative Partnership initiative with much excitement and enthusiasm.
Creative Partnerships can bring about profound change in how education relates to the arts and vice versa. We will give it a very high priority, evaluate it thoroughly and we will do all we can to turn it from a pilot into a mainstream activity.
We want to see the same principle – putting people and high quality artists and art together to create transforming experiences – applied to other sectors and ages. Given the significant growth in the population in the 50-plus age group in the next decade, we would like to explore initiatives that apply the Creative Partnerships principle to that age group.
Growth in resources for the arts
As an organisation, we will be focused on growth. We will bring the transforming power of the arts to bear on issues of health, crime, education and inclusion. Many artists are naturally drawn to those fields.
Without compromising our main purpose – the arts – we will make the most of growth by establishing healthy and effective partnerships with a range of national, regional and local organisations. Nationally, these include Government departments for Health, Education, Trade & Industry, and the Home Office as well as agencies such as the Youth Justice Board and national broadcasters. Regionally and locally, these include Regional Development Agencies, Regional Government, Regional Government Offices, Local Strategic Partnerships, Regeneration Agencies and, of course, Local Authorities. We will draw up a plan for growth nationally and regionally, with some clear and challenging targets.
We will place added emphasis on marketing and communicating the value of the arts. This will include marketing of the ‘transforming power’ of the arts – all the arts, not just the arts we fund - and more specific marketing, for example, in relation to new opportunities to raise extra resources for the arts.
A modern, dynamic Arts Council
In order to fulfil our ambitions we need a dynamic and effective Arts Council. We will build staff morale, deliver some early wins, and allow people to get on with their new job. We will create a sense of progress, momentum, excitement and achievement. This will involve focusing on our organisational culture and working methods and making the most of our new organisation’s strengths.
We will form project teams to drive forward new programmes with clear goals, drawing on people across the organisation. Overall, we will improve our operational performance and responsiveness, for example through our much simplified grants programmes.
In summary, we believe that the new Arts Council will be able to
· position and market the arts publicly throughout the country so that the case for Government funding in future will be immeasurably stronger
· make operational changes that deliver a much improved service to the arts at considerably less cost
· lever resources for the arts from a wide variety of national and regional sources at a level far greater than was possible previously
· work to one agenda, joining up our programmes and policies with action, and delivering against clearly stated ambitions.
The new Arts Council will be bold and set ambitious targets in order to maximise these advantages. Where there are major gains to be made, we will take risks and encourage the arts community to take risks.
In the past, the Arts Council had many policies and strategies. Now we have this manifesto. It states clearly what we want to do and replaces other general policy statements. Now is the time for action.
How we will measure our success
Our Corporate Plan, which we will publish in March 2003, will set out our detailed investment and describes the practical steps we will take, in partnership with others, to bring about our ambitions. That Plan will include measurable ‘success factors’. By way of illustration, these might include:
- more people saying that the arts play a valuable role in their lives
- more people from ethnic and cultural minorities taking part in the arts
- the majority of school children having had direct contact with the professional arts
- an enhanced reputation for England and the UK as a world centre for critically acclaimed art
- a marked improvement in the management and governance of our funded organisations
- significant growth in the number of artists who have previously received direct funding from us now enjoying an ongoing economic return from their work
- cultural institutions more open to people from diverse backgrounds as performers, audiences and staff
- more teachers, health professionals, probation officers, youth workers, social workers and carers reporting the value of the arts in their work
- the arts community reporting that we have broadened our range to show a clear interest in new and emerging arts practice
- the arts community recognising that the we speak up more effectively for artists and for the value of the arts
- our own evaluation showing a creative and valued workforce
- a further significant increase achieved in the 2004 government spending round – as a result of the successful marketing and promotion of the transforming effect of the arts.
We invite artists, organisations, partners and colleagues to join us in this bold adventure.