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Twelve things from a fantastic 2019

Category: Arts Council England, Theatre, Arts, music, dance


Twelve things from a fantastic 2019

It’s been a busy year at the Arts Council, with so many exciting things happening across the sector. We’ve undertaken research, launched innovative projects and released millions of pounds in funding to support arts and culture across England.

We were hard pressed to pick just twelve, but here’s a highlight for every month in 2019...

January: Transforming Leadership

We started the year with the launch of Transforming Leadership, a £7.1 million fund investing in Leadership Development. We were blown away by the appetite for the fund, which received nearly 200 expressions of interest.

February: New Creatives

We teamed up with the BBC to launch New Creatives, a talent development scheme giving artists aged 16-30 the chance to develop their technical and creative skills, with their work shared on BBC platforms. The programme has a particular focus on giving opportunities to young artists from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in the arts and broadcasting.

March: Centre for Towns

Some of the most exciting, transformative work and projects are happening outside big cities. That’s why we joined forces with the Centre for Towns to get an understanding of the investment, infrastructure and engagement with culture across England’s vibrant towns. Paul Bristow, our Director for Strategic Partnership.

April: Designation Development Fund

A new round of the Designated Development Fund opened. The scheme recognises, celebrates and champions collections of national and international importance, providing funding for projects to ensure their long-term sustainability and maximise their public value. 28 museums and libraries were successful in receiving a total of £2.1 million, drawn from the National Lottery.

May: Supporting our rural communities

We published our new Rural Evidence review and position statement for 2019. Laura Dyer, our Deputy CEO, Places and Engagement, blogged to explain why it’s important that we continue to support.

June: Getting digital

The Digital Culture network launched! They’re on a mission to help organisations develop digital skills, find new ways to reach and engage audiences and help develop business models. To date, they've helped over 32% of our National Portfolio Organisations and have worked on over 500 cases!

July: We 'banned the box'

As our Executive Director Public Policy and Communication Mag Patten put it, “humans possess a superpower - we can reimagine ourselves”

In July we ‘banned the box’ and committed to offering a fair opportunity for people with convictions to compete for jobs we advertise by removing the tick box from our application forms.

August: Creative People and Places

We welcomed 13 new areas to Creative People and Places! We’re investing £17.5 million of National Lottery funding over the next four years to the places identified as having some of the lowest engagement with arts and culture in the country. Due to the exceptionally high standard of applications we received, we made an additional £5 million available!

September: Access to Work: A Guide for the Arts and Cultural Sector

To help make it easier to apply for the Access to Work programme, we funded @disabilityarts to produce a guide that explains the process, whether you're an employee, self-employed or an employer.

October: The Durham Commission

October saw the much-anticipated publication of The Durham Commission, our joint research collaboration with Durham University. It convened to look at the role creativity and creative thinking should play in the education of children and young people. Drawing on its research, the Commission has developed a vision for promoting creativity in education which will have positive impacts in 2020 and beyond.

November: A milestone birthday for the National Lottery

The whole arts and culture sector came together to say thanks to everyone who has bought a National Lottery ticket over the last 25 years. Artists and Arts and Cultural organisations threw themselves into the festivities, giving special offers to ticket holders and taking to social media to shout about all the amazing things lottery funding has made possible.

December: Digging into our socio-economic diversity

For the first time we're going to be tracking the socio-economic diversity of the workforce of our funded organisations. We're also tracking the same data of our own staff here at the Arts Council. We know there are barriers to entry into the sector for working class people, and we're committed to changing this - and that starts with getting the right data. To announce this, and to explore the issue more broadly, we held a webinar, hosted by David Loumgair, Creative Director of COMMON theatre.

We’ve got big plans for 2020, and there’s a lot to look forward to, not least the publication of our strategy for the next ten years!

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