Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

Working in and on the Business of Cultural Education

Day 37 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: Reimaginings

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On 26 October 2022, Arts Council England will announce the results of their long-awaited investment decisions into which arts and cultural organisations have been successful in their applications to become National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) or Investment Principles Support Organisations (IPSOs) between 2023 and 2026.

It’s been a complex and intense process since January, what with the publication of guidelines and relationship frameworks, introductory conversations, digital briefings, opening of application portals, diversity monitoring, application assessment, balancing and decision-making.  The process resulted in 1,728 applications to the programme, requesting just over £2 billion over the three-year period.  This is more than double the number of NPOs that the Arts Council currently invests in and makes it their most over-subscribed investment round to date.

There will no doubt be winners and losers in this process.  Some organisations will find themselves being able to speak and present their work perhaps for the first time; others will breathe a deep sigh of relief whennthey hear that their work is going to be continued to be supported and others will find themselves silenced and potentially shut down. 

Was it ever thus.  This process happens usually every three years and leads to an anxious sector with organisations uncertain for their futures.  Scenario planning takes on a whole new levels of complexity and arts administrators the length and breadth of the country are noticeable by their absence of hair, shortage of nails and wild eyed staring look due to many sleepless nights.  

The Mighty Creatives are in the same position as everyone else in the sector and are ready for the email on 26 October which will tell us about what our relationship with Arts Council England will be over the next 3 years. So, in the meantime, in the spirit of hoping for the best but planning for the worst, the next 10 days will highlight some of the amazing work the charity has done for, with and by children and young people in the East Midlands over the last ten years.

Today’s reflection: Let’s Create: arts packs through the Covid-19 Pandemic

Let’s Create packs were packs of arts resources for children and families who had been struggling through the pandemic.  We focused on reaching children and families in poverty by working with Local Cultural Education Partnerships and with the End Child Poverty campaign.  This highlighted the roles of food banks in communities which “became clear quite quickly, and where there weren’t links to food banks, we made them”.

Some families who received these packs would not otherwise have had access to creative materials. This was especially relevant in the city where packs were distributed through food banks serving people experiencing financial hardship. 

One food bank manager spoke of how being able to offer packs made a material difference to families’ financial welfare and quality of life:

“It takes the pressure off and – all these lovely things that people have got, but not had to go into debt for. For lots of people these things are normal, but not for everyone. They were extra things that we could provide for them, for the whole family, although it is for the kids it helps the whole family.” (Let’s Create City Partner)

For more information about The Mighty Creatives supported this project in the East Midlands are here.

The Mighty Creatives staff team took part in the Mighty (UN)Mute, a day-long vow of silence, on 5th October 2022. You can check out the campaign here or donate your support to it here.

Or if neither of these is possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcomed and appreciated.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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