Wera convened an interactive conference on the future of arts and culture in our city on Friday 7th February.
In total, 100 participants representing Arts Council England, Bath Cultural Education Partnership (BCEP), Bath Spa University and a wide range of stakeholders of the local arts community came together at Bath Spa University’s School of Art and School of Design’s stunning new Locksbrook Campus.
In her welcoming remarks, Wera, who trained as an artist said:
“We are all born creative. I have been an artist much longer than I have been a politician. Over the last ten years, arts funding has become much more finite. We have to make the most of very scarce resources. I am very excited about today’s conference. When you put so many creative people together, I know we can expect the unexpected,” she said.
Sarah Crown, Director of Literature, gave the context for and presented Arts Council England’s new ten year strategy "Let's Create”. The aim is to work together to create an inclusive and level playing field for the whole of the arts in England. “Everyone can develop and express creativity throughout their life. Our goal is for England to become a creative and cultural country.” Sarah’s presentation was followed by a Q&A session.
Participants took part in a workshop session facilitated by The Bath Cultural Education Partnership (BCEP). The aim of the workshop was to explore how to respond, as a community, to what the Arts Council is proposing. The group work was summated by Andy Salmon, Pro-Vice-Chancellor External of Bath Spa University. Key themes which emerged in the workshop sessions were inclusivity and accessibility for all.
Afterwards Wera said: “I’m very grateful to Bath Spa and to BCEP for helping to make this happen. This was an important first meeting. It’s clear that we need to find new ways to talk about art and culture. It was interesting to hear calls to be intergenerational, to be a learning community, where learning is an inclusive activity. We also need to consider the importance of location and transportation in Bath and North East Somerset. We need to do things outside our traditional systems.”
Dr Penny Hay from Bath Spa University and House of Imagination said: “This was a wonderful opportunity to bring our wider arts community together to hear from the Arts Council and begin a dialogue on how we want to respond on behalf of our community. BCEP’s steering group includes colleagues from Bath Spa University, Bath Festivals, House of Imagination (formerly 5x5x5=creativity) and the egg theatre. Today’s conference helped us map the next steps to broaden collaboration across the arts and cultural community in B&NES. Dates have been set for the working groups to reconvene in late March and May.