Why can't I be in charge of funding? What makes 'them' so good at it?

Lizzie Allen, 4 October 2012

As I hope is apparent the title of this report has a tongue in cheek air but, nevertheless, was trying to struggle with the question of ‘them’ and ‘us’. We make the art but have less and less direct contact with those who make the decisions about whether or not to fund us. Do we really know what's going on? Do they really know what is going on? On a practical level can we not be given more information about the skills and expertise of the people scoring Grants for the Arts applications in Manchester? New groups, those starting out, are experiencing great difficulty in getting any advice and assistance. Some expressed despair at the idea of ever getting a foothold and said that they would be looking for corporate support. Surely the current government will rejoice. It was pointed out that further cuts in ACE staff will make the situation worse in the not too distant future although there was confusion expressed about where the cuts would fall - either a culling of relationship officers at the regional level or the loss of front line staff (i.e the enquiry team) at Manchester. Either way it would be bad news for those wanting more support. There was also a discussion about bureaucracy insisting on the ‘right’ vocabulary. There seemed to be a divide - those who had been successful with applications seemed to think the system was OK and those who had been unlucky didn't! But should there not be a more objective analysis of the system. An appeal for transparency in the process was re-iterated. The poet, Don Paterson, has written an article on the issues of funding in Scotland and some of this article was quoted during the session. The article is worth reading in full - some of it is specific to the situation in Scotland but much of it is relevant to England

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Arts council, funding, Funding, arts council, Don Paterson, Arts Council