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Your questions

Thank you for your feedback and suggestions following the first provocation. Although the views expressed by the panel are not necessarily those of the Commission, we nevertheless would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of your questions. Should you have further comments or questions, please contact us via Twitter @UoWCommission or by email: warwickcommission at warwick dot ac dot uk.

1. Where is the artist’s voice?

Although it is beyond the remit and capacity of the Commissions to seek to represent the artist’s voice directly, we are listening to it closely and artists play a vital role in our conversation around culture. We are working closely with a number of organisations who (i) collect evidence from artists (e.g. Creative Skillset, CC Skills, the AHRC Cultural Value project) and with (ii) important advocacy groups (e.g. What’s Next?, the National Campaign for the Arts). In addition, three of our Commissioners are practising artists (David Lan, Jenny Sealey, James Yarker), ensuring that the artist’s voice is also present in a questioning capacity at our Commissioner Days. It is also important to note in this regard that the Commission’s definition of culture goes beyond the arts to take in a broad range of creative industries, whose voice must also be taken into account when discussing the future of culture. Indeed, the very concept of ‘the artist’s voice’ is highly problematic given the very different perspectives and professional experiences of, for example, an actor working in a company based at a repertory theatre and a sculptor working alone in her studio.

2. How are we engaging with audiences and the broader public?

The Commission seeks to gather evidence from as broad group of participants in culture as possible, including audiences and potential audiences. We recognise that projects such as ours run the risk of engaging solely with those already involved with or interested in culture without being able to enter into conversation with the broader public. In order to make the Commission’s work more widely accessible, we are developing our website and making the most of online resources and digital media. For example, following on from the success of our first event, the second provocation will take place online, allowing a far broader audience to participate in the debate. We are also engaging with media partners at local and national levels to extend the reach of the Commission. One of the Commission’s main aims is to collect and collate information from existing projects. Should you know of any initiatives that engage with audiences, please let us know by Twitter or email.

3. Are public provocations the best way of stimulating proper, in-depth discussion?

The provocations are designed to be accessible to a wide range of people and to present key issues and opinions relating to the Commission’s major themes. We want them to spark off further debates and stimulate the conversation around culture. The four Commissioner Days form the counterpart to the provocations, when the Commissioners receive up-to-date data and evidence from experts within the sector and beyond (see here for details of the evidence-givers at our first Commissioner Day). The expertise of the Commissioners in conversation with these ‘witnesses’ leads to a more in-depth and policy-focused take on the future of the cultural landscape than is possible at large-scale public events and allows us to explore what new recommendations and initiatives are need to stimulate policy and engagement with the arts and culture.
We also benefit from a close partnership with the AHRC Cultural Value project which will provide a more comprehensive map of evidence to encourage in-depth discussions and are holding smaller, more targeted meetings with specific areas of the cultural sector, which will also feed into the Commission’s final recommendations.

4. Can we conflate culture with the arts?

No, culture is the term we use to describe the full range of cultural activities from the everyday and community to sports and entertainment. We are particularly interested in whether people engage with the arts as part of their everyday life, and how the arts can break down barriers of elitism and class and produce more popular work without losing their intellectual edge. We are interested also in how the arts contribute to cultural and creative learning in schools and colleges and how this feeds in subsequently into the development of talent within the creative industries. One of the aims of the Commission is to explore how the sector can make the contribution of the arts to our cultural life more visible and more substantial.

5. Will the Commission be investigating leadership in the arts?

We are working with the Barbican to organise a summit for Cultural leaders and our Commissioners to consider what models and strategies are need to tackle the challenges now and in the future. Outcomes of this meeting will be published on the website following the summit at the end of June. The Commission is also very aware of the important role played by local leaders and is planning several events that will engage with cultural leaders and local government officials. For example, we are working together with the LGA and Arts Council England to organise a one-day event on arts funding in local government. The event will be aimed at local authority members with responsibility for culture and will consider how local councils can use culture to improve lives and communities, how access to cultural activities can be extended and what support there is available to them.