High Street Art

Programming

I’ve managed to clock two conferences in two days, both about the future of the arts (and arts funding), but otherwise different in every possible way.

On Thursday 5 June, Owning the Arts: Making Things Happen, organised by Rowan Arts as part of the Holloway Road Festival, aimed at “artists, arts managers, producers, educators and community activists”, was all about creative and collective problem-solving. The following day, Arts Development UK’s national seminar on The Value of Public Commissioning gathered arts and cultural organisations engaged in community building, well-being and regeneration together with public service commissioners for a day of keynote speeches and case studies presentations to discuss evidence, outcomes and evaluation.

I’m probably going to blog for quite a while about all the people I met, projects I’ve discovered,  and things I’ve agreed and disagreed with, just in the space of these two days, but to start with I wanted to highlight two great projects taking art to the high street – by taking over retail spaces and codes – that were presented at each conference. I’m also throwing in a personal favourite for good measure, to follow my preferred tripartite format. As I haven’t – yet – fully experienced these projects myself, I’ll let them speak for themselves in their own words, photos and videos.

1. Fully dysfunctioning: Hunt & Darton Café

A nice treat at Owning the Arts: participants didn’t just get to hear about the concept of live art duo Jennifer Hunt and Holly Darton’s project. We first got into teams to compete in the Not Great British Bake-Off, a sugar sandwich competition, to get a taste of the Hunt and Darton Café’s live experience, before getting into details of the project background and history.

Here’s what they say themselves about it:

Hunt & Darton Cafe is the product of Hunt & Darton, artist led producers creating theatrical experiences in unconventional spaces. Audience experience is our priority.

A fully functioning Café that blends art with the everyday, Hunt & Darton Cafe is a social and artistic hub where spontaneity and performance meet great food and drink.

Jenny Hunt and Holly Darton expose the inner workings of their business by presenting everything as art-from public display of their bank balance to the lovingly handpicked charity shop crockery.

Hunt & Darton Cafe encourages playful participation and meaningful social encounters. It can operate as an offsite micro-venue or temporarily transform and existing space in a gallery, theatre, public building or outdoors under canvas. Whether seeking surprising art or a relaxing place to spend the afternoon, customers can expect a welcoming atmosphere and food served with a twist. This is an exciting, innovative and entrepreneurial project unveiling and celebrating the ‘Cafe’ as an iconic and socially important hub for creative productivity and conversation.

The Cafe takes over empty shops, often working with council initiatives and art centres to benefit and increase artistic activity within the area. The alternative service from Hunt & Darton themselves (often wearing their iconic pineapple outfits and hats) comprises deadpan style and theme days such as ‘you-do-it-day’ where customers are encouraged to serve each other. Hunt & Darton also commission local artists to wait on the tables and create unique performances as they serve. (…)

Hunt and Darton Café, Hackney, 2013

Hunt and Darton Café, Hackney, 2013

The café started in Cambridge in April 2012, travelled to Hackney, Edinburgh and Brighton, and is about to embark on a 5-city tour over the next 18 months. Here’s where and when to catch it:

Colchester – Oct 2014
Folkestone  – Feb 2015
Manchester – March 2015
Harlow – June 2015
Peterborough – Oct 2015

 

2. Social & Emotional Transactions: Encounters Shop

Ruth Ben-Tovim presented her work with Encounters Arts in a Cultural Commissioning session on place-based outcomes. It’s an art based on co-production, dialogue and long-term relationships – and for Ruth, the essential part of her work is to craft the invitation.

From the website

Since 2003 Encounters have been taking up residence in disused Shops across the UK, working with thousands of people to create evolving, co-authored artworks about the joys and challenges of everyday life.

Shops have taken place in Sheffield, Winchester, Liverpool, Dewsbury, Totnes and London. We also deliver Mobile Shop projects that tour and connect different locations within a neighbourhood.

Encounters Shops become meeting places in which local communities can collect and exchange experiences, memories, objects, journeys and thoughts about their lives, where they live and the wider world.

We use photography, visual art and text to collect personal material from visitors reflecting this back through the creation of interactive, evolving displays and verbatim performance events and publications. Talks, workshops, community visioning, feasts, inter-generational exchanges and cross-cultural dialogue processes can also take place in the Shops.

As well as using a selection of these favourites in each new Shop we set up, we tailor-make Invitations to Join In that respond to the place, context or commissioners focus.

Over the years, Encounters have developed a tried and tested series of participatory Invitations to Join In that you are likely to find in any of our shops including; Blackboard Questions, Memory and Story Maps, Recipe Cards, Stepping Stones, Lake of Tears, Tell Me a Story About, Seeds of Change, Family Portraits, Journeys, Collage Blocks, Anyone Who’s, and Lost and Found.

Where’s the heart of Andover? Inside the Encounters Shop.

Inside the Encounters Shop – photo (c) Paul Bevan Photography

The 10th Encounters Shop is currently in Andover, Hampshire, until 15th June.

 

3. Heart-felt nostalgia: The Cornershop

Felt artist Lucy Sparrow crowdsourced over £10,000 – from an initial £2,000 bid – for her Cornershop project, and she is now creating enormous amounts of felt-replicas of everyday objects that will go on the shelves of her pop-up Cornershop.

From the Kickstarter campaign:

In 2014 I, Lucy Sparrow, will be restocking an abandoned Cornershop in London with felt products. Each item – from the bean cans, to the cigarette packets, the chewing gum and the porn mags – will be made entirely out of felt: each item meticulously hand sewn, stuffed and priced by yours-truly. During the month-long installation The Cornershop will be visited by both local passers-by and art audiences, once inside the shop they can not only view the products, but can handle, and even buy them. They will also be able to watch live-sewing events, participate in workshops and can even be drawn into improvised performance works that make them reflect on our taken-for granted shopping behaviours. The installation will be accompanied by a series of making workshops. In addition to drop-in workshops for one and all, I will also offer more specialist workshops for the local community and the neurologically diverse communities.

Weetabix

Weetabix -work in progress

Tampax

Over the counter emergencies

Rizla

A cross-section of rolling papers

Cat food

Cat food (supermeat)

Lucy’s ambition is to create in felt every single item usually found in a cornershop, in the right proportions: here’s the full list of everything that needs to be made. The shop’s opening is currently planned for August 2014 in Bethnal Green, and Lucy’s progress can be followed on her blog, website, Instagram and Twitter.

Arts Volunteers in Canada: Museums & Galleries

Spotlight

Volunteering is a topic that ruffled a few feathers in the UK museum sector when it was introduced as one of the key concepts of David Cameron’s Big Society – especially in Liverpool, one of the four original ‘vanguard areas’, where the project was publicly launched in July 2010 and championed by the chair of National Museums Liverpool. Museum staff felt threatened by the prospect of being replaced by unpaid workers in times of budgetary cuts; union chiefs expressed concerns over a return to “Victorian times”; and some volunteers themselves deemed the scheme “hypocritical”, as their organisation, the Friends of National Museums Liverpool, a 1,700-strong membership group that had been providing volunteer time and financial support since the 1970s, had been deemed “unsupportive” of the organisation’s goals and disbanded by management in 2008.

Big Society def

(Liverpool officially withdrew from the Big Society pilot a few months later, in February 2011, as the £141m funding cuts imposed on the city council’s budget had a direct negative impact on the level of support it could offer to the community and voluntary sector.)

A 2010 poll run by the Museum Association in the context of the Big Society launch, asking whether volunteers are a threat to paid staff, attracted some rather unsavoury comments – but a more recent set of articles and case studies on the same website is showing a brighter picture, looking at emerging practices such as corporate volunteering, crowdsourcing and community engagement.

– – –

Context is everything: I didn’t feel the same tension between volunteering and paid work in Canada, where volunteering is considered a civic duty, philanthropy levels are higher than in Europe, and unemployment rates lower.

For Gillian Smith, Executive Director & CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship:

Volunteerism is how every Canadian can live up to the challenge of being an active citizen. (…) Citizenship is the uniting common denominator and volunteerism is a means to connect Canadians and build a stronger Canada.

For this last post in the Arts Volunteers in Canada series, I looked at the history and features of volunteer programmes in 3 museums and galleries in Toronto. As the other volunteer schemes I listed in previous posts on Performing Arts and Festivals, they are intended as examples of well-established, fully integrated volunteer-led structures that contribute to much more than the frontline operations of arts organisations.

 

Royal Ontario Museum

The ROM is celebrating its 100 anniversary in 2014 and has developed an extensive volunteering programme, now 57 years old. In the last fiscal year, 1,219 volunteers contributed 198 637 hours, valued at $2.5 million.

Video: ROM ReCollects, calling for volunteer contributions on 100 years of the ROM history

Volunteers can help out in 10 different areas of the ROM, either interacting directly with visitors in the museum and hands-on galleries, assisting with school visits and children’s activities, supporting special events (such as Friday Night Live, a seasonal weekly series of themed events with food, drinks, music and live performances) or working behind the scenes with the Marketing and the Research & Collection teams. The main volunteering group, the Department of Museum Volunteers, is open to ROM Members only and requires a 2-year commitment. They provide visitor services inside the museum, providing guided tours, interpretation of artifacts and specimens, and assisting visitors to plan their visits; they are also active outside, offering “guided walks tours through Toronto neighbourhoods of architectural and historical interest”.

Friday Night Live @ ROM by ElectriCITY Events

Friday Night Live @ ROM by ElectriCITY Events

The museum also offers an online volunteering opportunity to update ROM-related content on Wikipedia. This programme is part of GLAM-Wiki, an initiative to help galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) “share their resources with the world through collaborative projects with experienced Wikipedia editors”. GLAM/ROM was launched in 2013 with 15 volunteer editors invited to an Edit-a-Thon event, to “Learn how to contribute to Wikipedia and collaborate with others to write articles about artifacts/important people relevant the Chinese Galleries”.

For National Volunteer Week 2014, the Department of Museum Volunteers is profiling volunteers on the ROM blog, such as David Grafstein, currently member of the DMV Executive Committee, gallery docent, ROMWalks tour guide, Gallery Interpreter and member of the Outreach Committee, presenting ROM’s artifacts in seniors’ residences and Sick Children’s hospital.

 

Textile Museum of Canada

Quilt, Canada, early 20th century – Permanent Collection of the Textile Museum of Canada

Volunteers at the Textile Museum of Canada(about 130 in 2014) have their own website, Strand News. The Volunteer Handbook retraces the history of the Volunteer Association, states the volunteers’ rights and responsibilities and provide policies and procedures, for example on conflict resolution.

Positions available in the Museum include: Conservation & Collections Management, working under Museum staff supervision to conduct collection inventory and process new acquisitions and loans; Docents, who receive intensive training on new exhibitions; Educators, who animate the Fiberspace education gallery and deliver school programs and tours under the supervision of the Education Program Co-ordinator, interacting with visitors and using their own skills in weaving, spinning, embroidery, knitting and crochet. Volunteers also man the Reception desk and the Shop, provide assistance in the Library and during Special Events (opening receptions, lectures, seminars, workshop and fundraising events) and help out with Mailings.

Volunteers are instrumental in fundraising: they run several sales events a year, pricing and organising items donated by hobbyists, collectors and businesses, such as beads, equipment, fabric, notions, quilting or yarn. More Than Just a Yardage Sale has been running for over 20 years, and volunteers also sell the products of their own group projects such a quilts.

 

Art Gallery of Ontario

First founded in 1900, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) undertook a major transformation in 2004, both physically, with a $276m redevelopment plan by Toronto-born Frank Gehry, and artistically, benefitting from a major donation of Canadian and European art by Kenneth Thompson. The AGO runs an extensive education programme and has recently launched a monthly after-hours themed event, First Thursdays, with full access to galleries, food, drinks and performance and live music ranging from First Nations DJ collective A Tribe Called Red to Patti Smith.

Video: First ‘First Thursdays’ event at the AGO, 2012

The AGO currently counts 800 active volunteers, acting as docents and tour guides to welcome over 800,000 annual gallery visitors and supporting an extensive education programme of workshops for all ages. The Volunteers of the Art Gallery of Ontario also sponsor one major exhibition per year ($38K in 2013 towards Joseph Sudek, $32 in 2012 towards General Idea) through a Volunteer Endowment Fund.

Youth aged 14 to 24 can get involved in the AGO Youth Council, a one-year elected board that “works collectively to initiate programming by youth for youth, including exhibitions, public art projects, large-scale events, field trips and much more”.

– – –

As National Volunteer Week is closing in Canada (6-12 April 2014) and opening soon in the UK (1-7 June 2014) – just like Mother’s Day, it seems that it can’t be on the same dates in all countries – I hope that this series of posts on arts volunteers in another country can contribute to a reflection on the future of volunteering.

In my experience of working with volunteers, what comes back time and time again as their main motivation is a desire to give back, be closer to the arts, and socialise with new, different people. Direct entry to employment is, and should be, low on the scale of reasons to volunteer: as Gillian Smith points out, volunteering is about caring for the collective.

Volunteers are not (or shouldn’t be) frustrated professionals trying to score experience points: instead, they should be (very well) treated as the organisation’s inner circle audience

Replacing paid jobs with volunteers won’t get anyone very far, whereas providing structured and enriching opportunities to live one’s life more fully, including having a stake in the future of a cherished organisation, through a regular consultation process, a suggestion box system or any other mean to get the conversation going, is mutually beneficial for the individuals and the institution. Big Society can only work if it allows for Big People.

5 Questions to… Asia Diaz, YELL Festival Director

5 questions to...

Event planner Asia Diaz has set up her own company, Magnum Opus Events, to have the freedom to dream up, design and deliver the events that matter to her. She stumbled across Art of Festivals when searching for street event planning tips, and I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions about YELL Festival, due to take place this summer in Shoreditch, London.

1. You’re planning a street festival right now. What is it going to be like?  

The YELL (Young Entrepreneurs Living in London) Festival is going to be a celebration of young entrepreneurs and new business owners in the city. Our aim is to create a fun, family friendly, carnival like atmosphere for all. We want to offer a platform for new businesses to display & trade their products, gain exposure, build and make contacts. There will be live music, entertainment, games, giveaways, food drinks and dancing. It’s set to be a great event!

2. What has surprised you so far in the planning process?

I’m still very early in the planning stages, but I have been very surprised and pleased at the feedback and positive comments I have received when explaining or discussing my idea. I’ve been taken aback by the amount of support I have received and how many others want to get involved! Another surprising find, is the amount of preparation that actually goes into a street festival. There are so many factors to consider that hadn’t occurred to me. My background is in events management, usually within established venues, so I never really had too much to do with trading licenses, planning permission and the likes. It’s a whole new world that I am rapidly learning about.

3. What are the greatest challenges that you’re forecasting along the way?

My greatest worry at the moment is getting everything done in time for the deadlines. This is my strong point in events planning, but now I will have to acquire a small team and be able to trust that they will deliver on time so that the whole operation can go to plan. I think that people management will be my biggest task during this project.

4. What other festivals and events do you attend – or would you love to attend – as an audience member?

Last year in June I went to the Rivington Street Festival, which also takes place in Shoreditch. It was a great day with a great party vibe and atmosphere. They had a lot of activities and entertainment and it really was an enjoyable event. I really like going to events that have features that you can take part in as opposed to just watching a show on stage. Interaction is always a lot more fun.

5. What would help you most right now?

A good solid production team, being granted the funds to make this all possible and the strength and sanity to push through any set backs that may follow!!

_ _ _

Best of luck, Asia!

A website is in the pipeline, and in the meantime you can follow Asia on Twitter (@Asia_Diaz) to join the YELL Festival team and for all updates about other Magnum Opus Events opportunities.

The Art of Disruption

Programming

How to present what you do, as a freelancer/contractor? How to be both descriptive enough to be credible, yet keep the door open to new collaborations? As François Matarasso puts it: “In this neoliberal world, where people are commoditised, a freelancer must be ready to stand in the shop window, if not the auction block, in his best clothes. We’ve all got an elevator pitch now.”

In a perhaps misguided attempt to cover all grounds, I’m currently using ‘Events Manager, Audience Developer and Translator’ on my business card. My ‘services’ page also lists Programme Management & Coordination, Research and Copywriting. I could go on – but I’m not sure that adding more specialities would make my achievements and skills look any better. In fact, such an enumeration is not even reflecting what I do overall.

That’s why I’m using ‘Cultural Producer’ on my ‘about’ page and on LinkedIn: because it’s not just describing the different parts of the process, but how they’re all converging.

Jeremy Deller, Procession (Manchester International Festival, 2009) via BBC Manchester website

Jeremy Deller, Procession (Manchester International Festival, 2009) via BBC Manchester website

I like this definition, used by someone called Gina Tarantino in her Penn State University blog:

A creative cultural producer is a professional that plans, designs, organizes and manages artistic projects that have a cultural impact on the public that will interact with them.

Play Me I'm Yours, 2012, Toronto (Mexico piano, University & Dundas)

Play Me I’m Yours, Mexico piano (Toronto, Canada 2012)

And even more this one, developed by London-based creative company Nimble Fish to describe their own practice, which they felt was not accurately reflected by the categories “Theatre” or “Theatre-in-Education”:

Cultural Producers establish, implement and manage a self-generated creative vision, typically outside the purview of traditional performance or gallery spaces. Cultural Producers are rarely restricted to a single artistic form, preferring instead to work with whatever combination of forms best suits a particular idea or theme. Cultural Producers often seek to animate or re-interpret public spaces in the context of the communities they serve, and consequently their work often has a strong component of community participation or co-creation.

City-wide flood simulation produced by La Folie Kilomètre and pOlau

Jour Inondable, city-wide flood simulation produced by La Folie Kilomètre and pOlau (Tours, France , 2012)

Arts Council England and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation commissioned a 2007 publication titled “The Producers: Alchemists of the Impossible” to “celebrate and explore the role of the producer in the arts” through 14 portraits of creative individuals.

One of the featured producers is Helen Marriage, co-founder of Artichoke, “a creative company that works with artists to invade our public spaces and put on extraordinary and ambitious events that live in the memory forever”. Artichoke will probably forever be known for the Sultan’s Elephant (see below), but they’ve also created, more recently, the city-wide night-time Lumière events in Durham and Derry-Londonderry, the giant spider in Liverpool and One & Other, Anthony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth Commission project.

Durham Cathedral, Lumière Festival Durham, produced by Artichoke (2009)

Durham Cathedral, Lumière Festival Durham, produced by Artichoke (Durham, UK, 2009)

In 2012-2013, Helen Marriage was awarded a Loeb Fellowship by Harvard Graduate School of Design, to “study the intersection of design, public art and urban infrastructure”. She has since embarked on a series of talks and seminars on the topic of cultural disruption and ephemeral urbanism, and her recent presentation at the Ramsay Gardens Seminar series is summarised on International Futures Forum’s website.

She retraces the 5-year journey to get permission to close streets in London and stage a huge peripatetic performance, recalling the shifting point that made it all possible and the self-discovery that ensued:

For the first three years the answer was always no. But in the end the mood shifted:  from “why would we do this?” (a plea for justification, outcomes, evidence) to “why would we not do this?” (an enrolment in playing a part in producing something magical).  Helen’s message – “it will be fantastic and you will be really proud” – finally struck home.

In retrospect, she realised that she herself had been the problem. She had been asking an impossible question – in asking for permission. They could not possibly say yes. But once it got into the minutes that the event was scheduled to happen, everyone assumed that somebody else had given authority and from then on their role was to help.  It was a valuable lesson and one that she now follows always: her job is to take responsibility, to be the bearer of risk for everyone involved, which frees them up to be as helpful and creative as they can without formally ‘owning’ the project themselves.

Artichoke: Sultan's Elephant (London, 2006)

Sultan’s Elephant, Artichoke & Royal de Luxe (London, UK, 2006)

Reviewing The Producers for a-n , Charlotte Frost surveyed a number of established cultural production agencies (listed below). Despite clear differences, such as the diversity of organisational structures, she finds them to share three key functions:

  1. Matchmaking collaborative relationships: combining artists and artforms, often assembling a custom back-end team, and bringing together projects and venues, funders and other supporters.
  2. Providing the necessary time and space: directly by providing physical space (Artsadmin) or virtual platforms (Furtherfield.org), and also through committing to the long-term durational process (Artangel).
  3. Being the “risk absorber” (Steven Bode, Director of FVU): “Every project starts from square-one in terms of the producer having to find creative partners, a venue and, usually, funders” (Electra Co-Founder and Director Lina Dzuverovic); “Its very important that all of us, Artsadmin, Artangel, Forma, and everyone else… keep encouraging new work to happen, if we don’t, everything will get very stagnant. That is, what is inspiring and compelling for us, and it is something that I would reiterate to Arts Council England, this experimental work influences the mainstream and feeds everything else.” (Judith Knight, Co-Founder and Director of Artsadmin).
Floating Cinema, Up Projects (London, 2013)

Floating Cinema, Up Projects (London, 2013)

The video below shows the LIFT Festival production of Haircuts by Children, an “aesthetically scintillating experience”  developed by Toronto-based culture production workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex that has already been re-created in 30 cities.  Artistic Director Darren O’Donnell explains:

Haircuts by Children involves children between the ages of 8-12 are trained by professional hairstylists, and then paid to run a real hair salon, offering members of the public free haircuts. The project invites the consideration of young people as creative and competent individuals whose aesthetic choices can be trusted. While providing atypical entertainment for the public, Haircuts by Children also shifts the traditional power dynamic between children and adults, creating a safe social space where children and adults who live in the same community can meet and share a unique creative experience together. The idea that kids should be allowed to cut our hair evokes the same leap of faith, courage and understanding required to grant children deeper citizenship rights. For many it is actually less terrifying to contemplate allowing kids to vote.

Links:

UK

artangel.org.uk
artichoke.uk.com
artsadmin.co.uk
electra-productions.com
forma.org.uk
furtherfield.org
nimble-fish.co.uk
upprojects.com

CANADA

www.mammalian.ca

FRANCE

www.lafoliekilometre.org
www.polau.org

Where Culture Meets Commerce

The Long Read

2014 will be Year of Creativity in the UK, or at least that’s what the launch party was called – celebrating a brand new website all about the creative industries, produced by the Creative Industries Council, a policy advisory group providing a “joint forum between the creative industries and government”.

19 organisations – official government bodies, like Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and a host of professional industry representatives, such as the British Fashion Council or the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – came together to make the case for creativity. Full of facts and figures, case studies and resources, the website is designed as a “single overview and destination guide to the UK’s unique creative landscape” for an “international trade audience”. It’s part of the Britain is GREAT campaign – a government initiative to “welcome the world to visit, study and do business with the UK”.

The website is showcasing the UK as the place “where culture meets commerce” and the British creative industries as a great choice for discerning investors; every industry represented gets a micro-site with facts and figures and lists of reasons to choose British. It’s also a source of information on funding and financing for creative industries professionals, via a link to the Creative Finance Network. For both audiences, a calendar gathers all significant trade and industry events, from the London Art Fair to the London Fashion Week, the British Craft Trade Fair and Liverpool Sound City.

It also features a series of video interviews with UK Trade & Investment Commercial Officers based around the world, from Russia to Brazil, India, Japan and the UAE. Here’s the French representative, talking about how the UK creative industries are perceived across the Channel, pondering about the areas of creative growth in France (“it’s a bit difficult at the moment”) and attempting to describe her own culture in 3 words.

Industries represented include:

  • Advertising
  • Architecture
  • Arts & Culture
  • Craft
  • Design
  • Fashion
  • Games
  • Music
  • Publishing
  • TV & Film

Each industry gets their own ‘5 reasons’ to convince investors to choose the UK to fulfill their creative needs, and Arts & Culture’s bankable features include: – International collaborations, with a nod to “the UK’s history as a global trading nation and its use of cultural diplomacy” (such as the World Collections programme or the Royal Opera House working with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the National Performing Arts Centre in Mumbai and the Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman to offer tours, broadcasts, cinema screenings and training programmes); – Professionalism, integrity and originality in the performing arts and music, making the UK a global influencer – here musicals, stand-up comedy and blockbuster exhibitions are quoted as examples of the wide reach and appeal of British productions;

– A strong education system, through conservatoires, performing arts schools and museum curatorial programmes that attract students “from all over the globe” and train the next generation of arts professionals;

Sector-wide partnerships, through networks and umbrella organisations that foster regional, national and international collaborations;

– And an entrepreneurial mindset, with 88% of people in the performing arts sector, for instance, working in companies of five or fewer people, including for themselves – higher than the UK average of 76% (although I’m not sure that this is necessarily a good thing). The Clore Leadership Programme also gets a mention for offering a range of fellowships, short courses and workshops aimed at developing leadership and business skills across the sector.

The facts and figures – rather London-centric and largely drawn from recent Arts Council research documents such as The Contribution of the Arts and Culture to the National Economy, published in May 2013, and the Advocacy Toolkit, summarised here on Arts of Festivals – serve the economic purposes of the campaign, showcasing a strong a confident arts & culture sector that can export productions and artists and attracts students and tourists, and the notion of cultural diplomacy is pervasive throughout – the British Council is a core institutional partner – but there is yet another aspect of the campaign that transpires in the case studies: bringing home international talent to contribute to the vitality of the British scene.

Two out of four of the case studies feature international artists who are currently working in the UK through the new Visa Tier 1, open to artists with “exceptional talent”. Arts Council England has been appointed to assess the applications for the first-year pilot scheme and has produced a video about the process (with Canadian circus artist Hugo Desmarais and Turkish author Elif Shafak, featured in the case studies, and Ugandan singer-songwriter Sarah Ndagire):