Future Arts Centres (mac is a member) was established in 2013 to champion the achievements of arts centres at local, regional and national level, and to raise the profile of arts centres’ vital contribution to the cultural civic life of our town centres and cities. The opportunity to contribute to the call from DCMS for ideas for a new cultural strategy (#OurCulture) seemed like an ideal opportunity to highlight how arts centres can meet some of the challenges identified around people, places and funding.
Here's a summary of the response to the DCMS White Paper consultation:
- Places - Open all day and evening, arts centres are communities of place as well as communities of interest, using their local position to integrate cultural and community activity with the wider ecology of local services, such as schools, libraries, health and social care provision.
- People - These connections to our local communities are critical in terms of engagement. As community hubs, arts centres are able to breakdown many of the barriers to attendance, particularly behavioural and financial.
- Funding - Arts centres thrive through their business models, partnerships and pricing. A high proportion are social enterprises, including all nine of the Future Arts Centres partners. Funding and philanthropy are part of the picture, not the whole picture.
- The future - We believe it is vital that the role of arts centres within the wider cultural landscape is recognised and championed at the highest level. Arts centres are already demonstrating the benefits of mixed income business models and genuine connections to local communities, leading to thriving and sustainable cultural organisations. Continued public investment in the arts is critical, but where choices are made about where to invest, the excellent return on investment offered by arts centres must be recognised.