During the deliberations of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, there has been a desire to ensure that the views of arts practitioners working at local and regional levels as well as nationally and internationally, was present in the debate initiated by the Commission. Therefore, as part of the gathering of evidence and opinions, there was a focused attempt to elicit views from the arts community of the West Midlands region where the University of Warwick is based. Interviews were carried out with artists, arts producers and programmers working in film, visual arts, theatre, dance, combined arts, radio and television, literature, and jazz; survey questionnaires were completed by a small group of dancers; and an Open Space discussion was organised with a group of theatre practitioners. Their thoughts and comments have been brought together in this publication under the four theme headings of the Commission: Investing in Culture, Valuing Culture, Education and Talent, and International Trends.
There are strong arguments for bringing the voices of regionally-based artists and arts producers into the debate on cultural value. Arts practitioners are only rarely acknowledged by cultural policy researchers as being significantly engaged in policy debates, and there is still a tendency to focus on the most high-profile organisations and individuals from the arts community when policy issues are being considered by decision-makers. However, recent research (Woddis, 2005, 2013; Glinkowski, 2012) has shown evidence of wide-ranging policy involvement by arts practitioners, and a strong desire by artists and arts organisations to contribute to policy debates. The voice of a more diverse arts community will help to broaden and deepen understanding of the many issues arising when considering the future of cultural value.
The artists, producers and programmers contributing to this collection are all based in the West Midlands. While much of their work is carried out in, and often informed by, their local or regional area, most also have significant national and international reach and reputations.
o Pogus Caesar, OOM Gallery Archive
o Pearl Chesterman, Director for Learning, Birmingham Royal Ballet
o Helen Cross, Author
o Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands
o Ian Francis, Director, Flatpack Film Festival
o Piali Ray, Director, Sampad South Asian arts
o Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director, Birmingham Repertory Theatre
o Justine Themen, Associate Director, Belgrade Theatre
o Mary Wakelam Sloan, Programme Manager, Jazzlines
o Jonathan Watkins, Director, Ikon Gallery
o James Yarker, Artistic Director, Stan’s Cafe