Wednesday, February 12, 2014

In Battalions Delphi study - Parliamentary launch (2)

Two weeks ago, on 29 January 2014, Helen Campbell Pickford and I launched our In Battalions Delphi study in the House of Commons, at the invitation of Kerry McCarthy MP, chair of the Performers' Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group. It was a well-attended event with MPs, peers and representatives from across the British theatre industry.

There were several speakers on the day, and in a series of blog posts over the next few days I am going to be capturing and publishing the text of their speeches here. Today is the turn of Neil Darlison, director of Theatre at Arts Council England.

You can read my own speech here, and a transcript of playwright Dennis Kelly's here.

Neil Darlison:

"I am Neil Darlison – Director of Theatre at Arts Council England. I’ll be brief.

I’d like to thank Helen and Fin for their hard work in compiling this report – and to all of those who contributed to it.

It’s great to see such a wide range people contributing to the study and to the thinking - I have enjoyed reading and sharing its recommendations.

The study has uncovered a number of innovative and insightful proposals and it is clear from the report that these have been debated with passion and enthusiasm.

Some of the recommendations are headlines for further thinking – others more concrete – and some are beginning to happen already. Whichever - each is worthy of further consideration and I look forward to doing that in time with the theatre sector.

The report also demonstrates that working collaboratively can aid us all in finding new solutions and new ways of working - and we at the Arts Council England will continue to work ever closer with theatre makers to find the most effective ways to support the development of talent and new work to ensure our theatres maintain their world class reputation.

Not only that, as a smaller organisation with fewer resources, it is now more important than ever that the Arts Council works with artists and arts organisations, and shares some of the responsibility for thinking about the challenges and opportunities ahead – and indeed sharing the response to those challenges. This report is a tangible manifestation of the first part of this.

The Arts Council is the champion of art and culture all over the country, so we must focus on the different ways we can use our funds intelligently to benefit a range of artists and audiences: national or local, rural or urban, large and small.

We have started an investment process for the next three years which takes account of this complexity and England’s complex and interdependent arts infrastructure. Everyone here knows how important it is to invest in talent and to create an environment where there is the financial head- room to take risk - whatever industry you are in – and that is why our funds support a crucial part of our countries theatre ecology and is why our theatre is recognised as some of the finest in the world.

All those involved in this report take a central role in supporting the delicate artistic ecology of the theatre sector and are instrumental in ensuring our theatre industry, our film, our radio and television drama – all of which contribute to the international reputation of our creative industries.

Again I would like to thank Fin and Helen and all those contributors again and we look forward to the on-going conversation." 

The In Battalions Delphi study contains 36 innovative proposals on ways to protect risk-taking on new work for the stage, despite austerity.

Photo: Anne Hogben, Writers' Guild.

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