Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

Working in and on the Business of Cultural Education


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Day 54 of the 26 Day Big  …. Up: Reimaginings

After a long period of silence, Arts Council England are announcing the results of their long-awaited investment decisions on arts funding tomorrow!

The Mighty Creatives are waiting in trepidation along with everyone else in the sector. So, in the spirit of hoping for the best but planning for the worst, our period of not-quite-silence on the reflections of our past and re-imaginings of our futures continues unabated.

If this period of not-quite-silence is getting on your nerves, you could do a lot worse than to support our the Mighty (UN)Mute  campaign here. One thing I promise: if you can help us reach our target, I’ll never ask you ever again!  You will have well and truly shut me up 🙂

Today’s reflection:  come expect a miracle

Ambling through the back streets of a market in Port of Spain, Trinidad, you come across a church – modestly rebranding itself as the Jesus Miracle Centre – with the claim that should you wish to visit it, you can ‘come expect a miracle’ no less.

Expecting a miracle is perhaps something we’ve gotten out of the habit in recent years, depending as we do on rational, positivistic ways of thinking that persuade us that without ‘x’ input, then ‘y’ output is impossible: that the imagination and dream land are concepts best left in the hinterlands of the Australian outback and that everything in this world is determinable and forecastable, if only we had enough clean data available at our disposal.

We don’t talk often enough about miracles and we’re certainly not encouraged to expect them – and perhaps we should. 

Expecting a daily miracle might just help us deal with the imminent threat of economic meltdown, global warming up and England being beaten by Germany on penalties in the Qatar 2022 World Cup.


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Reimaginings

Well, today Arts Council England were supposed to have announced 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.

As it happens, all applicants received an email yesterday which read:

Following discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), we have agreed to delay sharing our Investment Programme decisions with applicants. The announcement will instead be made as soon as possible within the coming days. You can find a copy of our full published statement online here: www.artscouncil.org.uk/investment23.

So, our re-imaginings are going to have wait a little bit longer.

So, in the meantime, here is some music: “51 Reasons to Be Cheerful”, The Mighty Creatives playlist, pulled together during the dark lockdown days of Covid and pending ACE NPO announcements.

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.


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…  45 .. …  ..  … …  …. ..: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights some of the amazing work the charity has done for children and young people in the East Midlands over the last ten years.

Today’s reflection: A Mighty Love Letter

To be mighty is to be creative, we know that much already.

Our drive is a renowned one. An engine of empowerment – 

our heart a toll-free motorway pumping access region-wide,

merging and emerging, fighting and defending.

We filled in the surveys like good tick-box others,

it’s all there – to be mighty is to collect the figures.

To be mighty is to untangle them. To feel the injustice within them.

The figures are Midlands children after all –

our seaside souls, our urban underbellies, our rural roots,

our stuck schools, our underrepresented origins, our ravaged resources. 

To be mighty is to fight for their voices.

There are still so many kids with austerity-plucked wings,

their potential fenced in, caught in netted thought.

To be mighty is to fall in love with their stories

and fill their heads with feathers and glue

and no instructions, only encouragement – 

let them be the architect of their own flight.

We find patterns amid the arrows, 

the splashes and swaths that point to transformation –

an arts award has direction, imagination can travel, 

change makers are the future.

To be mighty is to keep on doing. To see ‘young’ as a doing word.

Young poet, young confidence, young leader,

young purpose, young festival, young teacher,

young dancer, young education, young skill,

young conference, young artist, young will.

That’s all we’re doing, really – 

passing on the things we’ve learnt, the love we believe,

and what our mighty vision hopes to achieve.

And you, my love, for reading this, are mighty too. 

You feel our fight, hear our voice,

and we hope you will fall in love with our story.

(Commissioned from Charley Genever, Emerge Young Artist 2017, to mark the TMC Business Plan from 2019 – 2024)

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.


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…  44 .. …  ..  … Big …. ..: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights some of the amazing work the charity has done for children and young people in the East Midlands over the last ten years.

Today’s reflection: Inspiring – Rare – Community – Beneficial – Resourceful

“At the beginning of this journey all I had was a vision and a small voice, hoping to be heard. Now seeing that vision come into fruition, I believe that my voice has been amplified and I hope that it will also amplify the voices and stories of the people who get involved with the project.”

These are the powerful words of one of the young people who have benefitted from The Mighty Creatives’ Young Empowerment Fund setup as part of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic back in 2020 and which we’re here today to celebrate.

The Young Empowerment Fund threw down a challenge to young people across the East Midlands:  how can you respond creatively to the challenges the pandemic presents for the benefit of your communities?

If we had any doubts back then that young people could respond creatively given the immense pressures on their education, their families and their mental health, these doubts were rapidly washed away by the desire they showed to see a better life through their creativity, imagination, and vision.

Since the beginning of the fund, 44 inspiring projects have blossomed over three rounds of the programme. Our young people have engaged a diverse range of art forms including music, performance, poetry, writing, websites, community art, drama and so much more. 

They have worked with our staff, freelance creative practitioners, and artists and in doing so, have helped those who have been working in the cultural sector itself, to financially navigate their own routes through the employment pressures caused by the pandemic.

Today provides us with the opportunity to congratulate all the young people involved – those here today and those who are unable to attend – on what they have achieved.  

Not through Zoom, not through Teams, not through WhatsApp, but in the here and now, face to face.  It’s been a long time coming and I hope you are as thrilled as we are that we can share their achievements with you. As well as the displays, you’ll also be able to enjoy some performances too.  Refreshments are available throughout the afternoon at Gray’s café – located over there – so please enjoy their fabulous food offer as well.

More recently we asked our participants to sum up their experiences of the Young Empowerment Fund in five words and they responded with the following:

Inspiring – Rare – Community – Beneficial – Resourceful

So, today please take this opportunity to browse through their creative work, talk to them about their projects and see how beneficial their work has been for themselves and their communities.   You’ll see for yourself too how resourceful they have been and be touched by that rarest of qualities: the ability to creatively respond to personal challenges and forge a new vision from those challenges.

Our vision here at TMC is simple: it’s to inspire children and young people to harness the power of arts, creativity and culture for positive change: and I am sure that today, you will witness first-hand how our young people have harnessed their artistic powers for all kinds of positive change.

The official launch of Round 4 will be later this afternoon, but in the meantime, I want to leave you some final words from one young person about the effect the Young Empowerment Fund had on them:

“I have met new people and made new connections.”

Which, in our ever-challenging world of mental health distress, dissolving community and heightened political tension is a fantastic testimony to the power that the arts and culture can have on all our lives.  Thank you.

(Extract from welcome speech at the Young Empowerment Fund Celebration event, LCB Depot, Leicester, 26 March 2022)

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.


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…  43 .. …  26 … Big …. ..: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights some of the amazing work the charity has done for children and young people in the East Midlands over the last ten years.

Today’s reflection: building talent pipelines in the age of creative austerity

Arts Award inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents: it’s creative, valuable and accessible. Whatever art form they’re interested in, whatever their ability, Arts Award can be a perfect fit with their interests and skills.

They can do an Arts Award in any area of the arts from fashion to poetry, rapping to dancing, sculpture to film. They can be artists or performers, or want to develop their skills in essential roles like marketing or stage management.

Designed by our very own Chair of Trustees, Felicity Woolf way back when,  the East Midlands is  at the national Arts Award forefront and it’s a programme that we at TMC are honoured to promote. 

Arts Award  truly is a creative, flexible and valuable qualification for everyone: it can be achieved at five levels – Discover, Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold levels – and offers children and young people every aspect of engagement possible: everything from taking part in different arts activities, to being inspired by artists and arts organisations through to organising your own projects.

We achieved 16,709 passes across the five levels between 2015 and 2018:  and together we enabled over 35,000 young people to create their portfolios which go towards gaining their Arts Award qualifications.

This means you have contributed to young people growing their leadership skills, artistic talents, confidence and creative skills.

The numbers associated with the project are impressive. Across the region, we have over 300 Arts Award centres actively hosting activiities; and 119 Arts, Cultural and youth support organisations

So, we’re here today to celebrate this phenomenal achievement. Everyone in the room has contributed to young people in the region accessing great arts and culture through the Arts Award framework.  You’ll hear some great key note presentations, and will be inspired by the amazing work produced by the children and young people of the region. 

You’ll also have lots of networking opportunity to meet many practitioners including our Local Cultural Education Partnerships.

As we look forward to the future with Arts Award  – and plan for its further evolution – we want to ensure all of you continue on the journey with us. Please make sure you sign up and stay connected with us at TMC, Trinity College London and Arts Council England for latest developments, continued support offers and opportunities.

(Extract from Introduction Speech at the Arts Award conference, ‘Arts Evolution’ at Stamford Court, Leicester on 13 March 2018.)

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.


Leave a comment

…  42 .. …  26 … Big …. Up: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights some of the amazing work the charity has done for children and young people in the East Midlands over the last ten years.

Today’s reflection: what do you want from a village? Really, really want?  

Royston Vasey was a fictional community invented in the BBC television comedy series The League of Gentlemen.

It was a simple village where everyone kept themselves to themselves and people liked to keep things ‘local’.

Filming of the series took place in the Derbyshire village of Hadfield and the programme gave us a sharp – but not altogether flattering –  insight into what villages can be and represent.

So what better place to start our thinking about what we want from a village.

And who better than Ferdinand Tonnies the German sociologist who knew all about how groups of people formed,  based on their wants and desires.

Tonnies distinguished between two basic types of social grouping based on human will:

Firstly, essential will which describes underlying, organic, instinctive driving forces in which membership of the group is self-fulfilling;

and 

Secondly, arbitrary will – which is deliberate, rational and future orientated and in which membership of the group is sustained by some instrumental goal or definite end.

Tonnies defined groups that form around essential will as gemeinschaft which we translate as ‘community’. 

And he defined groups that are formed around arbitrary will as Gesellschaft which we translate as ‘society’.

For Tonnies, Gemeinschaft could be identified by family, neighbourhood or village relationships and Gesellschaft was identified by the city, the state or corporate relationships.

So what do you want from your village?  Gemeinschaft or Gesellschaft? 

Because there are consequences to your choice.

On the one hand, gemeinschaft or community refers to relationships in which individuals are bound together by common norms often because of shared physical space and beliefs.  These can be tight knit, potentially claustrophobic and disconnected from the wider world.  A bit like Roysten Vasey,

On the other hand you might want a village built on Gesellschaft: relationships which are based on contract, on mutual, rational benefit but in which self-interest is the primary justification for membership. A bit like the new Roysten Vasey the builders were brought into build.

Your choice of Gemeinschaft or Gesellschaft may depend on how you want to control your village.

In Gemeinschaft, control is through common morals, encouraging conformism and practicing exclusion and social  control.  ‘You’re not from here are you?’ is a oft heard quote in Roysten Vasey.

Gesellschaft on the other hand keeps its equilibrium through policing, through laws,  tribunals and the ultimate sanction, prison.

But if you were a young village member, how would know whether you had disrupted the village equilibrium?

Well, in Gemeinschaft the rules are implicit – they’ve been handed down through the generations and everyone knows what they are and what is not to be done.  

Gesellschaft has explicit rules which are our written laws – everything from lawn tennis clubs to rock concerts to the law of the land.  These are the rules which reflect Gesellschaft.

There are consequences of your choice of desire for your village of course.

Eric Hobsbawm has made the point that globalisation is turning the entire planet into an increasingly remote kind of Gesellschaft with Fredric Jameson suggesting that this is accompanied by what he calls “an ambivalent envy felt by those constructed by Gesellschaft  for a longing back to Gemeinschaft.  A kind of nostalgic reminiscence for days which perhaps never really existed.”

So what you want what do you want from your village? What you really really want as the Spice Girls might have sung to us today.

Well, what we want to do today is consider how cultural education could be at the heart of the village model.

 Let’s start with just a brief look at what we mean by cultural education.

According to the Darren Henley review of 2012, Cultural Education consists of cultural activities which are academically, physically and socially enriching which  take place in school or out of school. 

Henley says that cultural activities include everything from archaeology through to the visual arts: and I would add that faith, food, science and sport are cultural activities which are equally important in developing a cultural offer for children and young people.

Henley says explicitly that the best performing schools bring cultural education practitioners in to  schools to work alongside classroom teachers to share their knowledge with children and young people.

I would add that the power of place and local specificity whilst understanding the wider global contexts which children live in is also critical to the success of that work of teachers and cultural practitioners working together.

Henley makes the point that a sound cultural education is about allowing children and young people to gain – and I would add – construct knowledge.

It’s about understanding,  developing their critical faculties: developing skills to practice specific cultural forms and I would add, is particularly critical in generating personal social and economic outcomes as well as cultural outcomes. 

Whilst many of us here today are here to consider the cultural outcomes of our work we also know we cannot isolate them from the bigger social and economic outcomes that arise from our work.

So how do The Mighty Creatives place cultural education within a village model? 

We do this by placing the child at the centre of the learning experience.

We do it by engaging insiders and outsiders – i.e. those inside and outside the village institutions such as schools to work together through a collective impact model for the benefit of our young villagers 

We do it by building on the multiagency policies and approaches of the last 20 years which including the Children’s Workforce strategy,  extended schools personalised learning and so on. 

And most recently we’ve been doing it through our local cultural education partnerships, our Emerge Youth arts festivals and other activities that you’ll be hearing about today.

How can we start today? 

We at TMC can start today by pledging to provide a world-class cultural education offer across the East Midlands. 

I’ll be talking more about that at the end of afternoon but one thing I would close this session today with is to ask you, to pledge to engage with this fantastic work which has been produced by over 500 children from across the region for your enjoyment today and of course the action packed programme we have ahead.

Colleagues, I hope you have a fantastic summit and look forward to hearing about your wants and desires for your villages through today and in the months to come.

(Extract of Keynote Speech of The Mighty Creatives Village Model Summit, Nottingham Conference Centre, November 2016)

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.


Leave a comment

…  41 .. the 26 … Big …. Up: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights 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: Welcome to the Kingdom of Mercia

Welcome to the Kingdom of Mercia, one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. The name, Mercia, means “border people”, probably quite apt given our discussions today regarding the future direction of the regions’ Local Cultural Education Partnerships, or LCEPs as they’re fondly referred to in these parts.  

If there was ever a group of people who spent their time working on the borders of culture, education, social activism and economic development, then those people are us – Mercians through and through.

So welcome to the border people of the East Midlands, from Amber Valley and Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derby and Derbyshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Norwich, Nottingham and Mansfield and Ashfield.

Welcome to our Western counterparts, the border people of Birmingham, Cannock Chase, Coventry, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire, Tamworth, Telford, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.  

And a particular Mercian welcome goes out to our other guests for today, our cousins from one of the other six kingdoms of the Heptarchy, East Anglia: and its tribes from Cambridge and Cambridgeshire, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Peterborough, Suffolk  and West Norfolk.

Introduction to Mercia and LCEPs

For those who are in the dark about Mercia, let me introduce you to our Kingdom.

Mercia has always been centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries. It has never had a single capital although the King of Mercia  had an important royal estate in 873 AD in Repton. King Offa, however, he of Offa’s Dyke fame claimed Tamworth in the West as the region’s capital a few years before that.

You’ll be delighted to know that the reign of King Offa is sometimes known as the “Golden Age of Mercia”. Nicholas Brooks noted that “the Mercians stand out as by far the most successful of the various early Anglo-Saxon peoples until the later ninth century.”

So, we have a long and illustrious history today to live up to.  We modestly like to imagine that perhaps our LCEPS are also by far the most successful of the various Anglo Saxon peoples in this part of our century, so today is completely about how we:

•          Share successes, challenges and learning with each other

•          Use our collective expertise to explore key themes which you have said you are interested in

•          Build an understanding about the impact you are making locally in shaping cultural education

•          Celebrate the spirit of collaboration in all LCEPs.

so that in 1220 years time, people will look back at us Mercians (and East Anglians) as leading the Golden Age of LCEPs until who knows when – or at least until the next Arts Council strategic review in 10 years time.

In the absence of Royalty

Speaking of which, I am disappointed to let you know that due to the recently announced election, Richard Russell, our Royal representative  from Arts Council England is now in a state of purdah and is unable to present to us. 

He was going to tell us about the current state of ACE’s 10 year cultural strategic plan and to make the case that LCEPs would be central in their future developments for young people.

He was particularly going to provoke us about what the challenges and opportunities may be for LCEPs in the future and wanted to pose the following questions:

–           How can we – LCEPs – help more children and young people to develop their creativity?

–           How can  we help children and young people engage with the widest possible range of culture?

–           How best can we continue to reflect their local communities and help deliver ‘creative communities’ outcomes? 

–           What are the challenges and opportunities for delivering a joined-up cultural education programme locally?

Whilst it is disappointing that the Royal Richard Russell is unable to join us, this won’t stop us from connecting, networking, sharing and learning from across the Kingdom, or given that East Anglia has joined us, the Queendom.

Right Here, Right Now

Today is the result of a collaboration between the three Bridge Organisations that cover the area – Arts Connect, Festival Bridge and The Mighty Creatives.  There are 9 LCEPs in Festival Bridge area, 8 in The Mighty Creatives area and 13 in Arts Connect area: so that’s quite a gathering.

This gathering of the tribes is the first of its kind – and may well be its last, depending on what happens with the next Arts Council 10 year strategy.  We’re not taking anything for granted in that regard so want to make sure that every moment of today is spent preparing you for the next ten years – getting you LCEP ready if you like for those exciting years ahead.  

You’ll have heard about school readiness and work readiness – well this is your chance to become LCEP ready for the next decade. This means using today to prepare for change , to lift your heads from the everyday trials, tribulations and distractions, to take time to think strategically and to make new cross border connections in the way that we on the borders are so well versed in making.

By their very nature LCEPs respond to their local conditions, have adopted different models and they may be in very different stages of development. So this is an opportunity for all LCEPs present to hear about common and shared directions. 

Following my introduction, you will be given several opportunities to network and find out more about each other in what the Vikings and early Norse settlers would call ‘Things’.

Before our Parliaments, before the High Courts – there were Things.

Things is from the Old Norse word þing, meaning assembly – and were an early system of justice and administration. Things were where political decisions were made, laws upheld and disputes settled. They acted as meeting places and were often the focus for trade and religious activity. In short, an ideal place for LCEPs to gather.

So, the Things you can join today include our

•          Post it wall 

•          Open Space session which gives you a chance to further explore issues

•          8-10 young people from New College Leicester and across the Queendom will play an important role throughout the day generating reportage and feeding back their reflections at the end of the day.

•          Evaluation Survey, which we’ll send you after event

Later on today, you will also be attend one of the following five Things, known more recently as workshop choices:

•          Impact and Evaluation

•          Young People’s Voice

•          Sustainability and Investment

•          Place Making and Identity

•          Schools Engagement

Finally

We hope today will feel friendly and informal, and that it encourages rich conversations and gives you inspiration and ideas to take back to the children and young people of your locality.  Because  in the end, they’re the ones that this is all about.

(Keynote speech given to The Power of Partnerships: The Power of Partnership: Local Cultural Education Partnerships at the Heart of Cultural Education in the Midlands and East Anglia, November 2019)

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.


Leave a comment

Day 40 .. the 26 … Big …. Up: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights 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: Arts Infrastructure?  Give it a rest!

People ask me, what are The Mighty Creatives then? And what’s an Arts Council Bridge Organisation when it’s at home? And what does being an arts infrastructure organisation actually mean? And why don’t you just give the money directly to the organisations that are actually delivering the arts? And cut out the middle men? Read on 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.


Leave a comment

Day 39 .. the 26 … Big Shut Up: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s another reflection which highlights 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: what is the point of school?

What with accelerating technological and social changes, children have become socialites at 7, adults by 12 and are doubting everything the teacher and the school stands for, within a few months of joining secondary school.  

 If you believe the crystal ball gazers of the media, the curriculum has become irrelevant and has been superseded by the Internet where children work out their own curriculum, perhaps blindly, perhaps intuitively, perhaps guided by who knows what – certainly things we parents and teachers know nothing or little about.

No matter where you look, the central questions are the same: how should schools respond to the rapidly changing nature of the world we live in? How can they prepare children for an uncertain today and a completely unknown tomorrow?

We at the Mighty Creatives firmly believe that this preparation for the future – the ability to future proof our children so to speak -lays fairly and squarely at the doorstep of arts and culture. 

It’s the power of arts and culture in the lives of children and young people which will affect their educational, their social and their economic futures.

I don’t just mean the ability to sit back and consume the latest musical X factor fad, but the ability for children to engage actively in the processes of understanding, creation and production of all forms of artistic activity.  

We – teachers, artists, policy makers – have known for decades the power the arts have in the education of young people. Many of us will have stories which bear testament to that fact of life and may also be able to point to the many research studies over the years which support what we know from our own hard-won experiences. 

This makes it essential that schools are at the heart of championing the arts and are given permission to create opportunities for the transformation that the arts can bring about.

This is why participating in the Arts Mark programme is so powerful for schools and the young people they serve – and why it’s such a thrill to be here this afternoon to see the effects that the Arts Mark programme is having on children across our region.

Since the relaunch of Artsmark in 2015 we have had over 250 schools register and join the Artsmark Community in the East Midlands.  They’ve joined the growing national community of over 2,800 schools across England as a whole. 

This commitment to arts and culture in our schools means that over 103,000 pupils in the region can be reached – and can have their lives transformed by the power of arts and culture. This level of transformation means that our children and young people are not only just finding the point of school, but are being prepared for a future which they can benefit from, rather than being frightened of and controlled by.

(Extract from welcome speech presented to Artsmark Schools at Nottingham Contemporary on 13 July 2017)

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.


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Day 38 .. the 26 Day Big Shut Up: Reimaginings

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. 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, here’s a reflection which highlights 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: a Grand Tour with a Grand Ambition

One of my first jobs as CEO of The Mighty Creatives was to tour the East Midlands’ arts and cultural organisations to find the inspiration to rise to The Mighty Creatives’ core challenge: how can we get better at providing cultural education for children and young people? This post was about the first month of the ‘Grand Tour’.

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.