The announcement of cuts to the arts budget in Bath and North East Somerset has the arts sector within the area up in arms regarding the lack of communication and vision from the council. There is a constant struggle for sustainability within our sector that is draining of both resources and energy, but it is critical that we keep up the fight and that we do not just roll over in the face of these devastating blows to our industry, our creativity and to the lives of artists and those associated with the arts and creative industries.
In a recent conversation with co-Chairs of other What Next? Chapters nationally, we discussed the varied approaches to support delivered by local authorities from Hull to Newcastle and throughout Wales. Some are forward thinking and others are, in my opinion, blinkered, however all are faced with the reality of having to make huge savings to their budgets. How do we square this circle? What genuinely is next?
As important as challenge and accountability are as concepts, the future for me must include dialogue and advocacy. As furious as cuts to the arts make me, and other colleagues in the sector, it is imperative that we come together and speak with one voice. I hope we can do this both through the Cultural Forum for the Bath Area, which, although quiet recently, is still positioned to be an excellent mouth piece for the arts community, and also through the recently formed West of England What Next? Chapter. Our next meeting is scheduled for Friday 24th February in Bath and we will be placing the recent cuts and our collective response to them at the top of the agenda. Please do get in touch with me if you would like more details regarding the What Next? Chapter, would like to join the mailing list of attendees, or indeed whether you would like time to make a representation at this or future meetings.
In other news, we were very pleased to start our new Care Course alongside Bath College’s new Care Academy. We are working with a variety of artists and organisations to delivery short evenings of training in a variety of creative activity that can be used by students and professional carers in any care setting. This work has blossomed from our Home Service project, working with Elders across three sites in Radstock, Bath and Bristol. We are coming to the end of this project soon and are working on some amazing resources that we hope will be a lasting legacy of this project. We also hope to be able to gain further funding to continue this incredibly valuable part of our delivery portfolio. The work with the Care Academy is certainly part of this legacy of embedding creativity into the care home environment, upskilling the care workforce and ultimately improving the lives of the residents through creativity. The course is eight weeks long and although started, it is possible to still join if you are interested.
Director, Creativity Works