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D&D – Why is funding the arts better for everyone?


In partnership with Improbable and Battersea Arts Centre

This is an invitation to come and help answer this question.

The next General Election is just under a year away (7 May 2015). Campaigns are beginning to be planned and policy priorities decided upon. For those of us who are passionate about the arts, it would be great to think that a good level of sustained investment the arts could be a vote winning policy for any political party that takes it up. But is it? Are politicians convinced that funding the arts benefits the country and, even if they were, would they make it a prominent feature of an election campaign and would it win them any votes?

If you’re someone who knows the arts industry, either as someone who works in it or as an audience member or spectator of it, you can probably see and feel the difference art makes because you’re around it all the time. You can watch audience members emerge from a play, beaming or thoughtful or moved to the point of tears. You might have witnessed the work of arts education departments giving young people their first encounter of a concert, or a ballet, or a museum, and you've seen how their worlds are changed for the better. You might have gone to a gallery, or an opera, or read a poem and understood something about how it feels to be someone completely different, to see the world through vastly different eyes, to completely change your perspective.

You might also know some things about money in the arts industry. You might know how much can be made to happen on relatively little. You might know how public subsidy can leverage huge amounts of additional funding from other sources. You might have heard the arguments about what arts organisations give back to the economy in tax receipts, tourism and related industries: amounts that far exceed the state subsidy invested in the first place. And you may also know how the UK arts are respected around the world and how much income international touring brings in. Some of you might also know what happens when money isn’t there. The artistic risks that aren’t taken; the jobs that can’t be created; the productions, exhibitions and art that can’t be made and shared with communities; the audiences that can’t be reached.

So as Party Conference Season approaches and campaigns for the next General Election are formed, we’d like to pool our collective thinking power and write a clear and comprehensive document about why funding the arts is better for everyone and should be a big part of every party’s election campaign. We think this is an issue that stretches beyond arts subsidy specifically and into a wide range of government departments: the contribution of the arts to education in schools; how the creative industries are the fasting growing sector in the economy; the arts’ function in relation to health and wellbeing etc. We would like to incorporate as many different viewpoints as possible, so whether you’re the CEO of a major arts venue, an artist struggling to get programmed, someone who would love to work in the arts but can’t get a break, a passionate audience member, someone who thinks the arts are a waste of money, or a politician working on a campaign: we need you.

We’ll be meeting for a day to think and talk and work. By the end of the day we will have written a document (or maybe documents) that we can hand over to the political parties. We’d love you to come armed with any statistics, evidence, anecdotes or arguments that you think are significant and important. If you can’t be there but have views or information you’d like to be discussed, send us a message and we'll do our best to include them (but being there is the only way to be sure they will be).

We hope to see you there.

This event is a day-long Open Space facilitated by Improbable, and hosted by Battersea Arts Centre in partnership with Arts Admin and Battersea Arts Centre.

We will be gathering to write a document (or documents).

Entrance is free, but you do need to reserve a place on the Devoted and Disgruntled website.

Open Space has been used successfully all over the world. It is an exciting open-ended event that enables a self-organising group to use its collective imagination to deal with complex issues and it will achieve this in an incredibly short space of time. By the end of the event the following will have occurred:

Every issue of concern to anybody will have been raised, if they took responsibility for doing that.

All issues will have received full discussion, to the extent desired.

A full report of issues and discussions will be in the hands of all participants.

And YOU will have taken part in making it happen.

Improbable and Battersea Arts Centre are committed to ensuring that Devoted and Disgruntled is a democratic and accessible event so please contact the Improbable office to discuss your access requirements.

Voice: 020 7240 4556
SMS: 07939 378607

This event is wheelchair accessible. Most access requests can be met with enough notice, so do get in touch.


Date and time

3 June 2014

Please note
This is now a past event.


Battersea Arts Centre
SW11 5TN