Director's Blog: CVAN update - September 2018

As we go into the busy Autumn season there's quite a lot going on in cultural sector policy. The Arts Council England (ACE) is entering the third phase of development for their 2020-2030 strategy development, the Brexit clock is ticking loudly and the Spending Review is likely to be pushed back post-Brexit. Changes to the way that evidence is gathered in the sector and the creative research landscape are also beginning to form up.

Our networks are also evolving - CVAN in the SW is recruiting a new coordinator to deliver an exciting programme funded by ACE and developed by Gordon Dalton who has now moved to a new post in the NE. We are losing Chelsea Pettit from CVAN in the East to head up the Bagri Foundation specialising in Arts and Culture from Asia and Shelley Cater-Shipway and Emma Fry from CVAN in NW are also moving on to found their own arts consultancy - they will all be much missed but we hope to be working with them again in their new roles. CVAN East is rolling out their innovative New Geographies programme whilst YVAN's programme 'Beyond the Obvious' has also been successful in achieving funding to build on their existing development programmes.

CVAN's national network is collaborating with our regional networks, ACE, cultural sector and policy partners to make sure the voices of the visual arts sector are heard by government and policymakers.

Arts Council Strategy

ACE is now reaching the third phase of development for the 2020-30 strategy following on from the report published last July on the Phase 1 discussions. Its findings chime closely with CVAN's own agendas: raising the profile of the wide ranging of visual arts with the public, diversifying the sector, embracing the challenges offered by new technologies and offering leadership and CPD to the sector.

CVAN will be participating in the ACE strategy Phase 3 open consultation on the draft strategy.


A ‘No Deal Brexit’ has been on the press agenda and it’s anyone’s guess what will actually happen. In the meantime, the government has been releasing advice for organisations in the event of ‘No Deal’ whilst the Migration Advisory Commitee (MAC) has finally released a contentious report on migration policy post-Brexit.

  • Creative Industries Federation today published its creative sector 'need to know' summary of the Technical Notices published by the Government on 23 August to help preparations for a 'No Deal Brexit'. Obviously a major issue for the arts would be loss of access to Creative Europe as well as Structural Funds. The Government has guaranteed funding for successful bids through to 2020 and they will similarly underwrite Regional Development and Social funds. In terms of mobility, we would become a third country and subject to Schengen Border Code with 90 days entry based on compliant passport. Customs duties and checks, import and export declarations and separate safety and security declarations will also be required for creative goods moving between the EU and UK.

  • The Migration Advisory Committee has published its report on migration post-Brexit recommending that the bureaucratic burden on employers for highly-skilled migration should be lightened, the cap removed, and the range of skilled jobs widened - but recommends that migration should still be employer-sponsored and the salary threshhold of $30,000 per annum retained which rules out suggestions such as CIF's for a creative freelance visa and would still be likely to place untenable burden on creative small and micro-enterprises. CVAN will be arguing that freedom of movement for creative freelancers working with micro-organisations is crucial to the sector and continues to support CHEAD in calling for the removal of students from net migration statistics.

I'd like to give everyone some sort of idea about how likely ‘No Deal’ actually is - but, unfortunately, things are moving fast and changing from day-to-day. Many analysts place the likelihood above 50% however and we should be prepared. CVAN is, of course, liaising with other sector bodies to ensure that we keep Government's attention on how disastrous a 'No Deal Brexit' would be for the UK's cultural sector.

Spending Review

The spending review is likely to be in Spring 2019 rather than this Autumn because of the Brexit negotiations. CVAN is starting to gather evidence for the review and working with ACE to ensure that the needs of the visual arts are well understood by the DCMS and Treasury. We will, of course, be arguing the case for continued participation in EU cultural and structural schemes and for free movement for creatives and artefacts after Brexit but we are will also be looking to evidence that the Museums and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief Scheme has been successful and should be extended beyond its existing deadline.

A new Soft Power Unit

Michael Ellis's speech at the Art Business Conference on 4 September launched the development of a new government soft power strategy at the Foreign Office. This follows on from the Portland Soft Power Report 2018 which placed the UK at the top of the 'Soft Power 30' but raised concerns that "As a result [of Brexit] there are huge question marks over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, its long-term global influence, and its role in the world."

The DCMS is now consulting the cultural sector on the role of the cultural industries in the UK's 'soft power' and CVAN will be making recommendations relating to continued participation in the Cultural Fund and structural funds, freedom of movement for creatives, students, and artefacts in Europe, but also for improving the situation worldwide.

New Centre for Cultural Value and
Creative Policy Evidence Centre

CVAN is currently working with sector partners on developing stronger evidence of the value and impact of the visual arts in society and economy to underpin our sector advocacy. This is in the context of an increasing focus on evidence-based policy and funding decisions in the visual arts sector. Two new research institutions are currently being established for the creative and cultural sectors to foster cross-sector working and build evidence of impact.

  • Following on from its Understanding the Value of Arts & Culture report and the Cultural Value Scoping Project the AHRC is now calling for applications to provide a collaborative Centre for Cultural Value to "help to foster networks, communities of interest and greater mutual understanding between people working in different sectors, art forms and academic disciplines. It will develop a programme of events and conversations, encouraging, for example, arts and cultural practitioners to work with academic and non-academic researchers and evaluators to use evidence in their practice and to develop new approaches to evaluation and organisational learning."

  • As part of the Industrial Strategy Creative Sector Deal Creative Industries Clusters Programme, The Arts & Humanities Research Council has recently announced that a new Policy Evidence Centre (PEC) will be led by Nesta with a consortium of creative industries partners. The Centre will carry out research to inform evidence-based policymaking for the creative industries as a whole and we are discussing with Nesta how we can ensure that the impact of the visual arts in UK society and economy is better understood.

CVAN Summit 2019

CVAN will shortly be announcing a date in late 2019 for the CVAN Summit -- a forum for discussions, workshops and interactions as well as showcasing the wonderful work of our regional networks.