Where was your first cultural experience? And where will be your last? Chances are the answer to both those questions will be ‘close to home’. Our Cultural Commons is a new national conversation about local cultural infrastructure – what works, what doesn’t, how and where it thrives – and how it could reach its full potential.
The conversation was started by Voluntary Arts and Arts Development UK, but now everyone with an interest in culture is invited to join in and explore how local cultural provision can be made better. In the coming years, most of us will be able to experience the arts and cultures of the world virtually. Some of us will also travel to experience them in person. But all of us will grow up and grow old experiencing and participating in the arts and culture, locally. The rapid pace of change surrounding all our local cultural spaces, including changes to local government, and the rapid digitization of the wider cultural world, means that previous models of local cultural planning no longer provide support effectively.
Chair of Voluntary Arts, Peter Stark had this to say about Our Cultural Commons: "Our cultural life – first and last – is local. Our cultural commons should be places where joy and grief can be shared; wellbeing, concern, caring, kinship and respect are promoted; happiness and laughter, wonder and curiosity and learning are everyday experiences. Despite, or perhaps in response to, a harsh economic climate, exciting new collaborative solutions are already emerging.
There is now an urgent need to build on this work to ensure that local cultural opportunities remain integral to our lives and those of future generations" Jane Wilson, Chair of Arts Development UK said: “We are in one of those rare moments where change is not just likely, but inevitable, and ways of supporting local cultural infrastructure, which have built up over many years, are not going to remain the same. Although this is a significant challenge it also provides us with a real opportunity, to look again at how we understand, support and nurture the richest possible cultural lives for all our communities.
The preliminary work done so far has given us insight into the range of issues facing the sector at the local level, and the diverse solutions being found to address them. The next step is to bring people together to extend the conversation – both online and in person. The aim is to develop a coherent shared narrative that will form the basis of a full report which can then feed the national debate on how best to secure access to the arts for all.”
The arts community across the UK and Ireland is being invited to sign up online to join the conversation, which will be taking place in an online forum as well as through a series of round table events and a conference next year. To read more about Our Cultural Commons, sign up for updates or get involved, visit the Arts Development UK website here
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