Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Good luck - everyone
Tomorrow we hear the results of Arts Council England's National Portfolio process, an important moment in the evolution of the sector. I've a number of interests - some organisations I'm involved with one way or another, some organisations I'm not but whose work I enjoy and value, a desire for a strong sector, lots of friends with applications and attendant aspirations, and lots of friends in the Arts Council who have been thinking and working and no doubt debating their bureaucratic arses off since January.
I was involved in several portfolio reviews in 10 years at the Arts Council and this moment before announcements is always a mixed one, and I suspect it will be even more so this time given the scrutiny and attention the open process has - quite rightly - brought. Whether it's been a tight spending review or a generous one you cannot afford to do all that you want to do, and all that colleagues, often closer to emerging organisations, are urging you to do. (and we should remind ourselves that Arts Council were given a horrible settlement to work with.) But you are at this point more or less comfortable and even proud of the portfolio you've put together, in the circumstances, and the vision for the future it represents. But you know there will be some people who disagree vehemently, some individuals who'll be on the phone, some probably in tears, and they'll get more of both your and public attention than those positive steps you think you're making, at least for a while. So people within Arts Council are probably feeling a parallel if not equivalent mix of the apprehension and excitement that those 1300 applicants are. (At least, that's what I always felt, even in standstill years.)
So I thought I'd try and find a song that was appropriate for three groups of readers: people given the horrible and unenviable task (by the coalition rather than their own choice, don't forget) of managing illogical cuts to arts funding to an arbitrary timetable imposed by ministers with an active interest only in certain parts of the picture; those whose news lead to relief, planning and excitement, and those for whom the news is disappointing. After flirting with the fantastic 'Ain't no stopping us now' by Mcfadden and Whitehead, which I think should be everyone's motto tomorrow, especially the disappointed, I went for this lovely song, as I'm writing this in Belfast, Duke Special's home, and it was recorded in one of the safer bets out of those 1300 - and the message and tone feels about right for everyone, as it's hopeful but not too as celebratory. (Apart from the Select Committee actually, they can go whistle for this week.)
So whatever the decisions, good luck - and remember - la lutta continua.
Posted by Mark Robinson at 15:58