Red Turban
William Roberts

Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust
12 June - 4 September

VAGA Submits Memorandum on Arts Reform to Culture Select Committee [added 4/02]

VAGA Submits Memorandum on Arts Reform to Culture Select Committee.

The submission drew attention to the current context. 1. The sector is complex, support and investment is historically fragmented, the split between support for contemporary visual arts activity and investment in modern and contemporary art within collection based organisations - a rich public resource - is problematic.2 The artistic product is diverse, ranging from world class museum exhibitions, high profile public art, international exhibitions of new work, to the ‘potting sheds’ of innovative work, artist led projects and community focussed projects. 3 Public provision is uneven in quality and quantity. The dynamics, outcomes and demands of the new Lottery funded projects are unknown. The clustering of practising artists is also uneven. London retains a critical mass of public provision, the commercial market place and concentration of artists. 4 Artists working practices are largely individual, often isolated and non-regularised. Networks are often supra regional, based on ideas and ways of working rather than on location. 5. The art form is continually evolving. Old boundaries between fine art, popular culture, design, crafts etc are being eroded. New forms of production and distribution, e.g. digital media, are constantly emerging. This is reflected in the current remit of Arts Council’s Visual Arts Department. Cross art form and hybrid work is increasingly common and often does not fit readily within the current structures. 6. In many instances the range of artistic practice and the potential mix of partnerships beyond the immediate sector is not well nurtured. 7 The sector suffers from: long term under-investment in its national infrastructure and lack of a coherent and responsive national strategy.

The Association re-iterated its support for the reform with the proviso that it produces: less bureaucracy; a stronger voice for the arts regionally and nationally; improved support for artists and arts organisation; respect for regional distinctiveness; effective regional representation and strategic change at national as well as regional level.

Attention was drawn to the difficulties of the process and length of time taken, which has generated wide scale loss of momentum and confusion, plus genuine concern, particularly from smaller organisations, that policies and funding decisions might be over centralised and valuable working methods and relationships with stakeholders and funders jeopardised.

For a full copy of the submission please email VAGA.

The Select Committee will be reporting in March, whilst full details of the processes of transfer to one organisation (due to be in place by 31st March) are available from the Arts Council website ..