Worcestershire Arts Partnership Blog

Thursday, 30 June 2016

ACE advised to change funding structures to promote everyday creativity.

ACE advised to change funding structures to promote everyday creativity.
Street parties, guerrilla gardening and engagement with cultural buildings must be encouraged if creativity is to become as accessible as sport, a new report has concluded. Arts Council England (ACE) should create a new small grants fund to ensure ‘everyday creativity’ is embedded across society, a new report has advised. It should also reconsider using language such as ‘excellence’ and ‘great art’, which ultimately discourages people without talent from practising creativity, and consider a more ‘democratic’ use of funded buildings and future capital developments.

The report, produced by campaign group 64 million artists with funding from ACE, is the result of a five-month nationwide study into how to move from ‘Great Art For Everyone’ to ‘Great Art By, With and For Everyone’. It defines ‘everyday creativity’ as grassroots arts activity, encompassing everything from breakdancing in open spaces to guerrilla gardening and painting in sheds. Its publication follows the Warwick Commission Report, which found only 8% of the UK population regularly attend funded culture. It hopes to build on the success of projects and organisations with a similar agenda, such as BBC Get Creative, Fun Palaces, and Voluntary Arts.

The report finds a number of barriers to everyday creativity, with one of the most important being the assumption that professional artists create art and ordinary people merely consume it. It says this is magnified by apparently divisive language such as ‘Great Art for Everyone’. Other barriers highlighted are:

  • A lack of an accessible space, either virtual or physical, in which to be creative;
  • A lack of general appreciation for process over product;
  • A lack of creativity in education and work, with pressures on teachers and continual assessment stifling playful creativity;
  • The apparent requirement to be ‘professional’ in everyday life, instead of expressing ideas and opinions.

The barriers to everyday creativity are contrasted against the relatively few perceived barriers in sport, in which amateurs and professionals are seen as equal contributors.

The report presents a series of recommendations for ACE and warns it not to deepen the amateur / professional divide by simply empowering its funded organisations to do ‘better engagement’. It suggests creating a small grants fund, as part of the Grants for the Arts programme or existing community funding models, to distribute grants of up to £5k with lower requirements. In addition, it recommends creating longer term funding opportunities for community development that match the length of funding agreements for national portfolio organisations, and focusing funding on people rather than projects. It also advocates embedding creativity in the curriculum, although it stops short of assessing the current state of arts education, which has seen a 
sharp fall in the number of performing arts courses taken in the past year. Other suggestions include creating a national campaign to highlight the benefits of everyday creativity; relaxing art form definitions in funding applications; establishing ‘citizen panels’ to contribute to funding decisions; and broadening the definition of cultural participation in research and population surveys


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