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Locating Cultural Value

The Conference





Read Report of 'Locating Cultural Value'

You can read a report by Dr Chris Bilton of WCE's 'Locating Cultural Value' conference, and the challenge of applying the findings and recommendations of the Warwick Commission report 'Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth' in our local areas and regions on the Arts Professional website.

Locating Cultural Value Conference

The 'Locating Cultural Value' conference took place on Thursday 23rd April 2015 at Warwick Arts Centre, and explored the findings of the Warwick Commission on Cultural Value, discussing how its recommendations might be put into practice in the region, and looking to the future work of WCE in building partnerships between our artistic and academic communities.

80 arts practitioners and academics took part in creating a stimulating and productive event, which unfolded in a lively and friendly fashion both in the lunch and refreshment breaks, and during the presentations and discussions.

The conference began with a short task for participants: to draw the connections amongst themselves on paper tablecloths at the tables where they were sitting (photographs of these links and working relationships will be on the website soon). Chris Bilton (Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick) then welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers: Vikki Heywood, Chair of the Commission; Jonothan Neelands, University of Warwick, Director of Study for the Commission; Paul Roberts, one of the Commissioners and Chair of Creativity, Culture and Education; Chris O'Connell, Artistic Director, Theatre Absolute, Coventry; Laura Elliott, Director, Coventry Artspace; Laura McDermott, Joint Artistic Director, Fierce Festival, Birmingham. (We will soon be posting extracts of their presentations here.)

Group discussions focussed on the Warwick Commission goals and recommendations and how they relate to participants' work in the region. Serious and thoughtful work was accomplished in exploration of these recommendations, and each table came up with next steps that they wanted to see happening.

The final session included short presentations from Professor Pam Thomas, University of Warwick Pro-Vice-Chancellor for People and Public Engagement and from Jonothan Neelands.

Then Richard Grant, the poet Dreadlockalien, created a poem as his reflection on the event; involving members of the audience in providing lines based on the afternoon's discussions. He also gave us a poem inspired by the goals of the Warwick Commission report, and another about Coventry itself.

Coventry theatre company Talking Birds and film-maker Mat Beckett were present throughout the afternoon, interviewing participants and making a 'quick-edit' film about the conference, which was shown at the end of the event. A longer version will be posted on this webpage in a few weeks' time.


A snippet of the ideas generated during the group discussions.

Ideas 1

ideas 2


A poem created by Dreadlockalien to summarise the day. To read his other poems created on the day click here

On the left we have the reported language of Academia,
If milk were words their flow would be creamier.
On my right we have a panel from the world of Arts,
Put them in a room, film the fun as feedback starts.

Arts is a fragile environment, unique in the UK
77 billion yet artists work for free each day

These researchers went deeper, real scuba dive search
‘We need to generate belief’ not feel left in the lurch
This research was a true act of collaboration
16 organisations in a multi-agency consultation

Warwick Commission, Future of Cultural Value report
Ecosystem of Arts needs grass roots support
Investment in sustainable arts needs to be longer
Green twigs and branches need guidance to grow stronger

Arts used to be a feeling, actions prompted by emotional evolution
Now A + B = C, what’s the equation or solution

Public subsidy when arts is perceived of no relevance
How do you calculate social value in an economic sense?

Artists are the ants, bees and worms of the system
Sell the flower for profit, where’s the artist we missed ‘em

Temperatures rising from the report so hot
Some old coins, gambled in a brand new slot

University and arts, new ways of valued integration
Arts in schools has suffered too much degradation

Le co bousier – response from architecture from art
What are the next steps, led by foot or heart

Language of Academia Vs Arts of Emotion
Crossing rivers and joining oceans

Measurement – numerical of tyranny each artistic day
Accountable yes ‘Don’t count – weigh’


How were the participants connected?



1.00 Registration & Lunch

2.00 Welcome – Chris Bilton, University of Warwick, Centre for Cultural Policy Studies

Panel 1: Findings and recommendations from the Warwick on the Future of Cultural Value –
Jonothan Neelands, University of Warwick, Director of Study for the Commission; Vikki Heywood, Chair of the Commission; Paul Roberts, one of the Commissioners & Chair of Culture, Creativity and Education

Panel 2: Responses and reflections from regional artists –
Chris O'Connell, Artistic Director, Theatre Absolute, Coventry; Laura Elliott, Director, Coventry Artspace; Laura McDermott, Joint Artistic Director, Fierce Festival, Birmingham

Q & A

3.15 Tea Break

3.45 Group discussions – the Warwick Commission recommendations: how do they relate to you and your work in the region?

4.45 Summing up session:

Report-backs from group facilitators

Speaker – Professor Pam Thomas, University of Warwick, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for People and Public Engagement

Concluding remarks – Jonothan Neelands

Poems – Dreadlockalien

5.30 Drinks reception, with canapés

6.00 Showing of Talking Birds & Mat Beckett conference film

6.30 End

Resources for the Conference Discussions

Warwick Commission final report(PDF Document)

Practitioners' Views(PDF Document)