Director's blog - April 2019

CVAN's steering group is really buzzing with ideas this month as we come together with new energy to think about the future of our sector in these challenging and fast-moving times.

We'll shortly be announcing the consultative policy labs for the "Visual Arts as a Global Force" consultation working with Policy Connect/APDIG and a-n in consultation with other key sector bodies. The labs will be by invitation as space is very limited and we need to ensure that we have a representative range from individual practitioners through artist-led and studio spaces, major galleries, creative higher education, and regional infrastructure decision-makers. The sector as a whole will be able to feed in via a survey and by submitting case studies and via social media. The report will launch next Autumn in the Houses of Parliament.

Following on from Su Jones' popular guest blog last month we'll be bringing more regular opinion pieces on current issues - starting next month with Paul Hobson, Modern Art Oxford's Director and a member of CVAN's steering group. Contributors will be drawn from across the sector to try to capture the full range of thinking and promote healthy debate on the future of the Visual Arts in England.

Meanwhile, ACE's annual report on The Contribution of the arts and culture industry to the UK economy was published yesterday and Sir Nicholas Serota's speech highlighting that the arts now contributes more than agriculture to the UK economy has been widely quoted. 16% of the responding organisations listed visual arts as their principal activity - the second largest sub-sector after theatre. The survey also reveals how dependent the arts are on ACE funding - 76% reported being in receipt of ACE funds but this has fallen by 3% whilst local authority subsidy has fallen by 9%. Contributed and earned income have increased sharply by 33% altogether. The contribution of NPOs to the overall GVA also grew significantly. All in all, whilst shrinking subsidies have had a disastrous effect on artists' livelihoods, the sector as a whole is proving resilient. However, it’s vital to make the case for public support of the visual arts to ensure that our next generation of world-class artists are able to thrive and develop.

ACE has also just published a toolkit to help arts organisations make the case for the positive impact of arts on people's lives which you can find here. Let's get the story out there! CVAN is planning a campaign for Autumn 2019 to celebrate how diversity can fuel originality and innovation to build on our international reputation for excellence. More on that before too long!

Let’s sustain a mood of optimism as the days become warmer and develop a balmier attitude to uncertainty - life goes on and the arts are never more vital than when we need to reinvent ourselves. Let’s embrace change, get out in front and shape it!