This month we are very happy to welcome two new members of staff to Creativity Works. Firstly, Kate O’Malley joins us as co|Create Manager. Kate has hit the ground running and brings a terrific energy to the place. She is concentrating on creating a framework for our newly re-deigned artists training and support programme which we hope to be re-launching at the beginning of next year. We are also joined by Stuart Campbell as our Finance Admin co-ordinator. Stuart has a wealth of experience in finance and we are very lucky to have prised him away from his dog-walking for one day a week. Having said that, he is more than welcome to exercise our two office dogs who are always on the look-out for a muddy hike through the North Somerset hills.
We are very busy, as ever, with the start of delivering our Home Service project in two care home settings, one in Radstock and one in Bristol. We are all looking forward to the development day when staff, artists and professionals come together to discuss and share best practice and our creative vision for this three year project. Ways and Means, our project with adults with learning disabilities continues and the two artists working on this are evolving the look and make-up of the toolkit we are creating. On Friday, we celebrated the launch of The Golden Key, a project led by Second Step and funded by Big Lottery working with the most hard to reach citizens of Bristol. It showcased the amazing work our artists have been doing with the project advisory group, the IF Group. Speeches, led by Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson, were followed by passionate and moving words from the group members themselves, reminding us all why this work is so necessary and how creativity can be the real catalyst for change.
Two very interesting, and not wholly unconnected meetings have interested me this month. Firstly, the Bath and North East Somerset Budget fair came to Radstock. Those attending were presented with the current administrations fiscal plans for the next few years. When presented in detail with the scale of the cuts that local government is and will be facing, it is extraordinary that we have any public service at all! I have to say I do have a new found respect for those trying to make some sense of the nonsensical figures they have been allotted. The terrifying prediction was that there will actually be zero government funding to local authorities by 2018. The new ‘model’ includes letting LA’s keep business rates and therefor incentivises them to support business and enterprise. As a member of the newly formed steering group for the creation of a Creative and Cultural strategy for B&NES, I hope we can advocate for culture to be at the heart of this new approach and a driver for economic growth and employment.
Secondly, I attended the Arts Council England National Portfolios briefing in Bristol. If anyone wanted to take out the great and good of the Arts sector in the South West, St Georges Bristol on Monday morning was the place to do it! Again, we were presented with a gloomy picture of cuts and compromises, but again I was encouraged by a passionate and holistic approach to how we can get through this difficult juncture. It appears that the Strategic Funds will bear the brunt of the cuts and that an increase in Lottery money will go part way to filling a widening gap in arts funding.