April 10, 2020
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Live stream: National Portfolio press conference

Good morning everybody and also good
morning to everyone who’s joining us online through our live stream. I’m
Laura Dyer, Deputy chief executive for places and engagement at Arts Council
England and I’m very pleased to welcome you here today to Curve Leicester. It’s
my base; the Midlands and also Leicestershire is my home county so it
felt particularly fitting this morning that as I got up I didn’t have to
catch my train to London as I have done for every other NPO announcement but
instead given the content of our announcement today, I was able just to
drive through the beautiful rural countryside of Leicestershire to here.
Today, we’re announcing our national portfolio for 2018 to 2020 – we’ve been
letting organisations know their decisions from this morning and we’re
here to talk about what the national picture looks like. Arts Council England
chair, Nick Serota and our chief executive, Darren Henley will be
explaining in more detail what that looks like and later, they’ll be joined
by our executive director of public policy and communication, Mags Patten who
will be chairing a Q&A. We’re also really pleased to welcome Chris Stafford, the
chief executive of Curve Leicester and Aakash Odedra from Aakash Odedra company
will be saying a few words about how public funding will benefit their
organisations, their practice and their community. You won’t be surprised to hear
me say that we haven’t schedules a fire alarm practice for the press conference
so if the alarms do sound can I ask that you follow the ushers from Curve
Leicester who will direct you to a place of safety. Before I welcome Nick onto the
stage we’d like to show you this short video which explains what we’re doing
and why. Laura, thank you, I’m Nick Serota,
chair of Arts Council England. I always remember meeting Laura first when she
was director for Arts Council East Midlands, so I think of this as being very
much her patch but I also want to mention that I’m very pleased that we’re
joined today by Peter Phillips, area chair for the Midlands, also a member of
the National Council of the Arts Council and of course Peter Knott, who is the
Regional Director for the Midlands. I do want to thank as Laura has done,
Chris Stafford, chief executive of the Curve and Nick Foster, artistic
director for welcoming us here to this great theatre and Centre for the Arts in
Leicester today. I’m really pleased that we’ve come to Leicester to make this
announcement, this is a city in which public investment in art and culture and
in the public realm is making a very real and very visible difference to the
lives of people in this city. Today we are announcing the largest ever
investment in the arts councils national portfolio which is the collection of
arts and cultural organisations that is the mainstay of the work that we do
These are the organisations that get regular annual funding so that they can
all be leaders in their field pushing the bar higher and showing what artistic
ambition means and they are the standard bearers for the Arts Council’s
aspiration in relation to art and culture in this country. Between 2018 and
2022 we’ll invest a total of 1.6 billion pounds in 831 organisations
across England. This is an uplift of 170 million pounds
or 4.25 million pounds a year compared with the previous period
where we funded 698 organisations. That in itself is a massive vote of
confidence in the arts and cultural sector and it’s a declaration of how
important we believe the arts to be at this particular moment in our nation’s
history. This national portfolio is going to reach more people in more places
giving them the chance to have life-changing experiences and
opportunities that the arts bring. It also delivers on three key promises: the
first was to shift the focus of our investment and do more outside London.
Not because London in a way deserves any less but because many parts of the
country deserve and indeed I would argue need more. So between 2018 and 2022 we
will be spending, as I’ve said, an additional 42.5 million
pounds each year outside the capital but we’ve also managed to give
standstill funding to the organisations in London and indeed, a small number
of smaller organisations, many of them not in the centre but in the
outer boroughs of London to the portfolio. It is vital that London
continues to thrive. The second promise was to broaden the portfolio to reach
new places and new kinds of organisations and the portfolio will now
reach across many places and communities that previously have received relatively
little funding from the Arts Council. Leicester, Torbay, Plymouth,
Barking and Dagenham, Coventry, Tees Valley, will all see significant increases in
investment and for the first time we’re funding museums or bringing museums and
libraries into the portfolio. So we are funding these museums from Truro to
Carlisle, from Northumberland to Dorset, we’re bringing libraries into the
national portfolio for the first time with seven library organisations
supporting their work as growing cultural centres in their communities. We
can’t fund the whole Library System, that’s a statutory responsibility of
local government but we what we can do is use the arts funding to ensure that
libraries that are reaching out into community with arts programs can
deliver and, indeed develop those. Thirdly in our promises we said we would
reach more diverse and more diverse led organisations. So we are now taking on
many new small and medium sized organisations including Aakash Odedra
here in Leicester and several other organisations in Leicester and we’re
also increasing funding for organisations like the new art exchange
in Nottingham. This is a groundbreaking national portfolio. It has a range of
sizes, locations and disciplines. It’s going to energise the whole cultural
sector and I believe it’s going to produce formidable partnerships and
fantastic combined arts work but it’s also going to disrupt, challenge,
above all it’s going to change people’s lives. I’ve given you some of the
headlines and now I’d like to invite Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts
Council England to give you full story. Thank You Nick and I’d like
to begin by echoing Nick’s words about how great it is to be here in Leicester,
a city where the benefits of sustained investment in art and culture are
apparent for all to see. What we’re launching today is the culmination of 18
months work, the national portfolio is our major investment. We wanted to make
sure it serves the public and the arts and cultural sector reflecting their
ambitions and expectations. So we began this process with a broad consultation.
That through up some themes. More investment outside London, longer funding
agreements, helping new and smaller organisations join the portfolio and the
need to do more to make sure this portfolio represents the diversity of
our nation. Ahead of the beginning of this funding round, we also determined
that we would shift our funding outside the capital. Today we’ve achieved a shift
of 4.6 percent, meaning with for the first time more than 60 percent of our
national portfolio investment is spent outside London. We also said that we
would protect the overall cultural ecology of London by asking our four
largest organisations to apply a three percent reduction so that we could bring
in smaller, more diverse organisations. We’ve addressed those challenges we have
a national portfolio of 831 organisations with 183 joiners with an
overall budget per year of 409 million pounds across National Lottery and
grant aid. We’ve maintained our investment at the same level in 531 of
the organisations in the portfolio twelve organisations have seen a
decrease and ninety-eight have an increase. These increases were given in
exceptional circumstances for organisations that show particular
promise in some aspects of practice, are creating and developing genuinely
additional work or are increasing their resilience.
How did we reach our decisions? It was a rigorous process. First we assessed
applications based on their merits and ability to contribute to the five goals
of our ten-year strategy. To remind you, those five goals are promoting talent
and excellence, widening access, strengthening the sectors workforce and
its resilience and ensuring the children and young people are at the heart of
what we do. Then we looked to balance the portfolio by size of organisation, art
form diversity and geography we wanted a portfolio that was representative of and
relevant to contemporary society. We have an obligation to champion inclusivity,
tolerance and progressive values and to ensure that opportunity extends across
all barriers including socioeconomic ones everyone should be an insider
diversity is our national asset it’s a collective strength from that diversity
will emerge the energy enterprise and creative innovation that our arts sector
and our world needs all our national portfolio organizations have to sign up
to the creative case for diversity which puts diversity at the center of their
work they’ve all been rated on their plans
and will be working closely with them to ensure that they can step up and deliver.
There are some exciting additions the portfolio with joiners including
bamboozle, Bradford literature festival, disability
arts online, diverse City, Akkash Odedra company, together 2012 and yellow earth. One point to note; following our consultation we introduced
a definition of diverse led organizations to include LGBT and
female lead and also added a self definition category which reflected the
fact that organisations often identify themselves as diverse led according to
who is making key strategic decisions we’ve been using these definitions since
last year but in the interests of consistency we also monitored the
portfolio using our previous definition. It’s been really encouraging to see the
success of our elevate program which has supported diverse led organisations
outside the portfolio to come ready to apply for entry. Out of 40 successful
applicants to elevate, 20 are now being offered membership of the portfolio.
There are still numerous challenges not least the need to ensure that the data
we ask for gives us a clearer picture, but we’re making progress and this
portfolio is another step in the right direction. The spread of this portfolio
means there are exciting additions in areas where there’s not been a national
portfolio member before or where investments has historically been lower
places such as Bradford, St. Helens, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Plymouth and
Reading. Our investment in Hull will of course build on the legacy at City of
Culture 2017. The geographic spread of our museums is complemented by some
eclectic and engrossing subject matter from dinosaurs to tanks,
horse racing to LGBT history, from the pre-raphaelites to insect collections
museums really do have something for everyone. The portfolio is underpinned by
a range of sector support organisations which will help the sector to develop
through essential services, expertise and connections. Seven libraries with strong
arts programming enter the portfolio representing every Arts Council area. Now
libraries have the widest demographic among their users and their
collaboration with other cultural organisations will help reach people who
wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to enjoy the arts. Museums and libraries
will also bring in a wide range of practice and experience to share and the
willingness to form new kinds of cultural partnerships. The new banding
system which is an integral part of how this portfolio has been shaped will
place less of an administrative burden on organisations receiving the least
money, but it lasts the more public engagement, more talent development and
a wider impact from those receiving the highest levels of public
investment. The Arts Council is the national development and investment
agency for the arts, museums and libraries. This is a new national
portfolio that works together to support our strategic vision, to invest in the
best of art and culture so that more people can have access to it, but it also
looks to the future of our sector. We judge that this is the right time to
make an important commitment to the development of an energetic, colourful and
inclusive arts and cultural sector that speaks with people and for people across
all of England. Now I want to hand you over to Curve’s Chris Stafford and
Aakash Odedra, who will tell you a bit about what Arts Council funding means to
them and their organisations. Thank You Darren and good morning
everyone and welcome to Curve. I’m delighted today’s announcement has been
made from here in Leicester in the heart of the East Midlands, a region that has
received over 36 million pounds of Arts Council England NPO investment in the
current funding round. Whilst of course Leicester may be more widely recognised
of late as being a city that can boast sporting successes and Richard the third
we’re also a city with a rich ambitious and vibrant arts and culture provision.
An offering that I believe offers everyone who lives works and learns in
our city with world-class artistic experiences. Indeed here in Leicester’s
cultural quarter we’re home to seven national portfolio organisations from
the Spark Arts who curate the internationally recognised Spark
Festival for children and the Mighty Creatives, our bridge organisation
through to the Phoenix Cinema our very own independent cinema, and Leicester print workshop which is one of the largest open access studios in the UK and of
course there is Curve. It’s also terrific news today that there are a further
eight organisations from across Leicestershire joining the portfolio
from next year. Leicester, I believe truly represents 21st century Great Britain.
Almost 50% of our population are made up from people from BME backgrounds indeed
we’re home to the most ethnically diverse street in England Narborough Road
which is just around the corner boasts at least 23 nationalities across just
one mile. And so it feels fitting that an announcement that will shape the
artistic landscape and will bring communities together through great art
and culture is made from this great city. Of course today is an important and
rather anxious day for arts leaders and arts organisations up and down the
country, and whilst we all know we need to continue to find ways to become more
sustainable and develop new income streams, organisations like Curve simply
could not achieve the breadth, reach or impact without the support from Arts
Council England. In this current NPO round at Curve we’ve been able to
significantly increase our artistic output by 30 percent. There are now
almost 650 performances from any one of our three stages a year selling an extra
60,000 tickets a year. We’ve also been able to develop our work on tour; work
that’s originated from our theatre taken on the road nationally and
internationally, flying the flag for Leicester and Curve. In the last year we
sold over 630,000 tickets for a major production on tour in over seven
countries which is 53 cities. We’ve also been able to invest more in our learning
provision and talent development programmes engaging almost 200 more
schools a year with our work and last year over 300 artists took part in one
of our many artist development initiatives from Akram Khan, Ishy Din,
Akash Odedra and Bamboozle through to our cohort of breakthrough artists companies,
including Impulse Collective, Jess Green and two Magpies theatre. None of this
would have been possible without the national portfolio support and I’m glad
I can say this next bit and so looking to the future I’m thrilled we’ve secured
continued NPO funding which will enable us to continue to deliver an ambitious
program of work over the next four years a program that will engage even more
artists and participants from across our city and beyond. A program that will have
national and international impact through our planned touring programs and
a program that will enable us to continue to play a key role in
championing and developing the work of BME artists and BME led companies
and finally a program that will provide even more people with access to great
art and culture. Thank you Arts Council England. I’d now like to hand over to
Aakash Odedra from Aakash Odedra Company. It is an incredibly
positive feeling to learn the news that our NPO application has been
successful. Arts has all the power to help people, to change people, to make people
feel, to believe. We have received support from the Arts Council England to make
art which tries to do this. Whether it has been a story about dyslexia through
Marmar or commenting on relationships with your community as a migrant in I imagine.
I have been privileged to work with some of the best choreographers in the world
like Akram Khan, (inaudible), Russell Maliphant, Aditi Mangaldas, (inaudible) and also perform at some of the most prestigious festivals and venues
across England and around the world. This new support wouldn’t enable me from
being the whole company to having a company of dancers to tour England
uncovering and telling stories. Telling your stories, my story, their story, everyone’s story. It will also enable us to make a bigger difference here at home in
Leicester and in the Midlands. We will be ambitious to show you can be world-class
be based and make in the regions of England it will enable us to take
greater artistic risks work with great collaborators and hopefully bring some
of those to Leicester, to show that we are a welcoming society and open despite all
the uncertainties around us. Publicly funded art is a great measure of a free
and progressive society, as an artist and as a company we take our
responsibilities very seriously. To ensure that our art is accessible and
remains relevant. With so much mud being thrown around everyday art can really
take the lead. Art has an opportunity to bind people
together I’d like to thank the Arts Council to Curve theatre, my home theatre,
my board, my team, my gurus, my family and my
community for all the people who have given us a leg up in this journey so far.
And I hope that we can continue to work with each other to make a bigger
positive change still. I cannot promise to change the face of the world but I
can promise to ignite and light a few flames; flames of passion. I cannot
promise that I’ll walk all the way around the world and be back in this lifetime
but I can promise to tread on the path that has been laid down for me by my
peers, by my gurus, two incredible women Neelima Devi and Chitraleka Bolar who’ve
enforced and made the foundation of my life. I cannot promise that I’m going to
create or construct the Eiffel Tower in Leicester but I can promise to pick up
those slates those rocks those stones pieces of sand and create a bridge a
bridge that the next generation can walk across and make their own paths and
bridges from the heart of England Leicester and from my heart I thank you Thank You Akash for lighting fires. Hello
I’m Mags Patten, I’m director of public policy and communication at Arts Council
England I’m now pleased to open the floor to my
journalist colleagues here today we’ve got about 15 minutes for questions
although there’s also an opportunity to speak to Nick and Darren afterwards and
I should also say that we’ve got I have colleagues here from Arts Council
England from our Executive Board in the front row and we’ll there to help answer
any more technical questions we’ve got a couple of roaming mics and I would ask
that you use them because we are live streaming and people won’t be able to hear
your questions if you don’t and for a similar reason, could I ask
well actually partly because I can’t really see you very well but also partly for our
listeners and watchers if you could say your name and publication. So I’ll open
it to you Hi, Mark from The Guardian. I guess there will be
lots of organisations and people who’ll welcome this regional shift but there
will be a lot of people who think it doesn’t go far enough they’ll be frustrated that it’s not a big
enough step. Do you share those frustrations in any way would you like
to make more of a shift? I think it’s a journey and travel I think we want to
ensure that we are creating centers of artistic and creative excellence all
around the country and that’s about building places where we’re investing in
infrastructure but also where we’re investing in individual artists there are some
great examples around the country where we’re seeing that half of Margate for
example around Turner Contemporary where we’re seeing a capital investment there
which has now resulted in a huge range of individual practitioners coming into
that place and actually changing it we’re starting to see it in Hull which
I’m very very proud of what we’re seeing with City of Culture a place which has
absolutely been redefined by long-term strategic arts and culture investment so
we will continue to do this I think it’s a journey we’re going on we’re by no
means are claiming to be at the end right now but I think it’s very very
important that we make sure that when we do invest public money we’re investing
in investable propositions and that’s very important too so we’re working as a
national development agency to do that. David Sanderson for The Times.
You have taken a lot of funding away from what many would regard as the crown jewels
of the British cultural sector. i.e Royal Opera House, National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. And South Bank Centre. Do you fear that you’re actually going to diminish these
organisations irreparably over the next four years? I think it’s very very
important and that we say thank you to those organisations actually because I
think one of the big things about being custodians of large amounts or
recipients of large amounts of public money is that you have a responsibility
to spend that wisely and in the conversations we’ve had with them
they’ve understood that we actually want to build an arts and cultural
infrastructure they’re at the heart of that and they’re doing great work and
they’re also organisations based primarily in London and with larger
organisations that are more easily able to diversify their income streams and
one of the things that we need to do as an Arts Council is to make all of our
organisations not just recipients of public money but also organisations that
can diversify those income streams and grow different revenue models and we’re
working on that over the next few years with all of the organisations across the
portfolio In fact if can I just add a
point to that really from my experience as being director of Tate
probably another crown jewel you might describe it as being, I mean frankly the
Tate became ever stronger when we developed the plus Tate network of
organisations across the country we learn from those organisations they
became part of the ecology we were able to assist them and I think it’s a
similar process that we’re engaged with here with the National
organisations based in London plus of course Stratford recognising that they can only really flourish if the whole ecology flourishes. They really do depend on
talent coming through from a whole range organisations to feed those great
national,what you described as crown jewels. Two questions, if I may – one is about your regional policy – your increase for regions, how much is that forced by the criticism you had about London-centric and how much is addressing the shortfall in local authority arts funding? The other one is, I notice you probably deliberately didn’t mention the word Brexit today, how much is that a concern of yours now and what are you doing about it? Shall I answer the first question and
let Nick answer the second? I think one of the things – I have been at the Arts
Council for two and a half years now and I passionately believe in arts and culture
around this country I got on a train anything you need to know that standard
pre-booked advanced rail tickets around this country anything you need to know
about any of the hotel chain that Lenny Henry advertises, I’m your man
around this country I went to 157 different villages towns and cities in
my first 18 months here and I saw and I listened and this is a portfolio that as
a result of that we believe passionately in arts and culture in all of our towns
and cities around this country and villages as well it’s not just about
urban investment it’s about rural investment it’s really really important
people pay their taxes and they play their national lottery and they deserve
the best. I mean can I just add, Simon that this is a response to activity and
excellence well beyond London and it’s not as a result of pressure. It comes
about because the Arts Council has been making small scale investments in a
number of organisations across the country over the last 4 or five years and you could say those organisations have now grown to a point
where they both need and certainly deserve regular annual funding, so I
think it’s a pull factor rather than the push factor. What would you like to know about
Brexit? Are you are you concerned about it? Are you concerned about it as everybody else is and if you are, how are you approaching it? I think there are very obvious concerns
within the arts world and the performing world in relation to the movement of
people with talent, people who run organisations, again you know, you look
across the organisations both in London and outside and increasingly they’ve had
EU Nationals working for them and that has to be a matter of concern for us
just like health service and I would say those organisations have benefited
enormously from that cross fertilisation so obviously we will be making
recommendations to government about hoping that we can ensure that that
movement continues in one form or another as we’ve just heard
organisations like the Curve are doing an enormous amount of international
touring and we all want to see that work continue and develop and indeed it’s one
of the great things that we are able to share with the rest of the world we will
be doing more work in Europe I hope I think those companies will be doing more
work in America and I hope that over a period of time
that excellence which we’re renowned both in London and certain other places
will spread across the country and be and people will be inviting really quite
small companies to make international tours as well as the big major companies Hi, Kristy, arts professional. I’ve seen
150 organisations funded through the lottery and given the Camelot’s recent figures show that lottery funding has plummeted are you convinced that
that’s a sustainable source of funding? So it’s actually those really small
proportion of organisations who are funded and we are – we do know that
lottery revenue does go up and down and it does change from year to year and we
will work to ensure the resilience of the organisations, we’re confident in our
forecasting for this portfolio and we will continue to work with the National
Lottery and the National Lottery family with DCMS and with Camelot to ensure
that the value of National Lottery is understood right across the country and
there is a huge amount every time someone buys a national lottery ticket
or plays a national lottery game that does for the culture of this country and
that something is very valuable we will make sure we make sure that message gets
across the people as well I mean if I can just add lottery income fluctuates
it’s gone down recently a couple years ago it was going up obviously we will
take a real interest in Camelot’s performance as an organisation creating
that income, but if you look at the national portfolio we’re spending about
70 million of lottery money in the national portfolio compared with overall
lottery income of more than 200 million so of course we’re concerned about
falling revenues in the national lottery but it only represents a proportion of
our income and the national portfolio is as we’ve said today the mainstay of our
work with arts organisations across the country and so 70 out of over 200
million gives us some scope I am certainly not content that we should see
falling lottery revenue but I think you need to get a sense of proportion we
should be able to maintain the funding to those organisations in future. Hi, Anita Singh from the Telegraph. You’re putting diversity right at the
forefront of this, I just wonder how you measure that, in terms of, is it
numbers in the workforce or in the audience and does it mean that you that
organisations will essentially be marked down or be less likely to get into the
portfolio if they have a very white workforce or very low numbers of
disabled people? So diversity is absolutely as you rightly say, Anita,
central to what we do and all of the organisations, what we’ll go through is a
process of signing the funding agreement with each of the organisations that
we’ve now made an offer to today over the next few months, so this funding will
start from April next year. All of them will have to be greater than meeting the
criteria to create a case for diversity that we set out so yes it is important
and we will be on the journey with them they will need to have a plan in place
to ensure that they can they can make that happen but we want to make sure
that we’re investing in arts and culture in terms of organisations, people are
making it, the gatekeepers who are making decisions and the people in audiences
who are going to see art and culture who are representative of the way England
looks and feels in the 21st century and actually sitting just next to you is our director of diversity who leads on this and, you know, we’ve
done a lot to put this at the heart of our thinking and I’m very proud of the
steps we’ve made we’ve got some very very good new young diverse
organisations coming into the portfolio we can do better though, and we want to do
better we are not there and we will make sure that over the coming years we
challenge the sector to make sure that they are creating relevant work and
actually their workforce is also relevant as well and that’s really
really important to us. We’ve got a couple of minutes if anyone wants to – Hi, the Arnolfini has lost 750,000 this must be given as one
of the leading centres for contemporary art, this must be quite harsh for yourself? Visual arts plays an important role for us and
visual arts in Bristol is also very very – Visual arts in Bristol is also
very important to us and Arnolfini has contributed that over the years
enormously our assessment right now is that it’s not a financially viable
organisation with its current business model so although we’re drawing money
from Arnolfini, we are ring-fencing that money within Bristol and we are
ring-fencing that money for the visual arts in Bristol and we will work with
the leaders, artistic leaders in Bristol with visual artists and with the local
leaders in Bristol to ensure that we invest in some really good really strong
visual arts in a way that is sustainable over a long period of time and Arnolfini
may well prove to be an important part of that solution going
forward that we will have conversations and we will work with them on the ground
to make that happen. Arnolfini… I knew the founder of
Arnolfini. Arnolfini opened in 1961 and it’s one of the great Vizard arts
organisations in this country but nothing stands still and since Arnolfini
was created there are a whole range of other arts organisations in Bristol
engaged in this in contemporary visit art from Spike island to the museums and
so on as Darren has said we’re ring-fencing that money we want to work
with Arnolfini with situations with the other visit arts organisations in
Bristol to ensure that actually Bristol has a great city with a long tradition
in the visual arts can move forward into the 21st century
with an offer that is you know with a program that is comparable with any city
in the country. We’ve got time for one more if anyone has a final question Just about ENO, how they manage to turn it around and be allowed back in? So we’ve made an investment of twelve point three eight million pounds a year into ENO and for
that we expect to receive excellent public value. You know, over the last few
years has faced a lot of challenges and we believe that the organisation has
made considerable strides forward over that time they’ve put in a new
application this time which has an ambitious creative program but also very
importantly it has a what we believe is a sustainable and strong business model.
Like all of the organisations in the portfolio we will continue to work with
them and to monitor them and to help them as much as we can but we feel that
the management team and the leadership at ENO have taken it to a different
place a better place than it was when we last made the decisions about the
portfolio so we’re confident that it can play an important role as an
organisation in London and as an organisation in the Opera world as well. Okay thank you I’m going to draw the open
Q&A to a close, but as I’ve said you are all welcome to speak to Nick and Darren
afterwards and if you please go to Eleanor Hutchin our head of media here
she and her team will help coordinate that for you. I’d like to a huge thank
you to Curve for having us here today, it’s bad enough having to go to an investment
process without having to host the Arts Council as well so thank you and to our
speakers Chris Stafford and Akash Adedra and to everyone who’s come here
today and joined us on our livestream and for those who specifically here
there’s some refreshments now in the mezzanine thank you.

Robin Kshlerin