The State of the Art conference we held with Arts Council England was a great success. The 500 booked delegates and speakers turned up. We had some great panels and good plenary sessions, including speeches from Jeremy Hunt and Ben Bradshaw.
Regular readers will know I tend toward a rather arch self deprecating style (if I put myself down you may be less likely to), but I will admit to feeling genuinely proud as I opening the conference yesterday. Mainly of the small but brilliant team led by Nina Bolognesi here at the RSA who turned the idea into a reality, but also that the idea of a serious, high powered national arts policy conference was one I have had for years and here, at last, it was, not just happening but working.
So, I really hope we can do it again and turn it into an annual date in the calendar. The arts and arts policy sector is hugely important to our society, to our economy and to our collective well-being. It is a sign of the sector coming of age that it can fill a day with well-structured and challenging debate.
Next year, here are some things I hope we can do even better:
- I would like to see some RSA research about art and social change to provide a strong conceptual framework for the day. One of the best presentations yesterday was from Professor Bill Ivey who offered us a powerful and well structured way of thinking about cultural rights
- We should provide a stronger platform for the for-profit arts sector. There was a good presentation from John Cassy of Sky Arts yesterday but we should hear more from commercial theatres, film makers and gallery owners
- We should have better representation from emerging arts and cultural sectors; for example video games (on Wednesday we had a great event here with Tom Chatfield who has written a fascinating book on the power of video games)
I also think we should go out of London. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of saying that yesterday and already today we have had three embarrassingly kind offers!
Have a nice weekend