Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Out of time: a catch up



Such a lot happening and so little time to blog about it. Things like...

Taking part in one of the Guardian Cultural Network’s Friday lunchtime webchats, on the subject of future-proofing your organisation. (I’m not sure any of us said it as such, but maybe you can’t, maybe you just get better at forecasting the weather and get a good brolly? Besides, do we really want to be entirely protected from the future, isn’t it unwritten in a good way as well as a scary one?) See the ‘top tips’ synopsis here  – which they edit together from the speed typing webchat version. The following week Kate Edwards from Seven Stories took part in one on how to make your venue family friendly – which they know a lot about at Seven Stories. She’s an honest woman and ‘fessed up to having to leave for a meeting (I knew this as I was in it too), instead of doing what I would have and got someone to be my typo-double for the last 15 minutes.

The Arts Index, which I mentioned couple of posts a go as a valuable innovation is now even more so as it is available to all and sundry for free, which is a very good thing. (And saves us all the bother of passing around the pdf...) There is good news – general stability, increased levels of satisfaction from audiences – but also some worrying trends, particularly the decline in private giving. The inevitable ‘lag’ also makes it harder to use – some recent theatre figures suggest a decline may have kicked in, for instance.

I’m not going to mention that the region outside London with the highest ‘index ratings’ is the North East. I’m not. But I will tip my hat to the region’s local authorities and their support of the arts, and note that’s something set in train a long time ago, and still being worked on, as seen by this recent paper of the Association of North East Councils. Cultural development continues - imagine how much more keenly if our local authorities weren't bearing the brunt of the Tory Coalition's cuts.

Re.evolution continues to, well, evolve. More than 40 peers are now signed up, and the next few weeks see the first few gatherings of peers. You can now sign up as a member, if the ‘peer’ offer isn’t right for you right now. This gives access to curated resources on the site, and to on-line and offline – or as i prefer to say, real world – learning events. Membership is open to anyone, and is free. (Though some future events may not be.) Details here. More details about the first learning event soon, but it’ll be at Live Theatre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on March 27th.

Something interesting happening over at the DCMS website where academic Dr Claire Donovan is investigating ‘the very idea of measuring cultural value’, and creating some debate.  In general I think debates about this can become overstated on all sides – eg, cultural sector as the measure of our society, well, yes and no – I’m also interested in how we treat the sick, vulnerable and dying, and besides, wouldn’t some totalitarian regimes come out well – great orchestras and national companies, and thriving avant gardes/undergrounds? I did like that Donovan reminded us of the end of Wilde dialogue which is often used only to attack those cynics who know ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’.  The rejoinder, however, is thata sentimentalist, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of a single thing.’ Wilde, being a great writer, he is of course more than capable of arguing with himself.

If you would like brief, generally commentless, links to bits and pieces of cultural interest, may I suggest you follow me on Twitter? That’s generally a quicker way of pointing at things of interest, like a child noticing a plane or a train. Or even like an adult noticing a plane or a train.


Photo by shirokazan under Creative Commons

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