Some points in response:

no-one should be under the illusion that decisions about the portfolio will have been taken by individual officers in different regions.  Arts Council England has for many years had strategic groups of artform officers (or whatever the name is now) who meet every few months to discuss the infrastructure for that artform across the whole country. Drawing up a portfolio of what to prioritise would have been carried out in negotiation across the country by those officers building a set of criteria which would have been agreed - for eg it may have been agreed that having a wide diversity of lesser funded organisations that they'd fund fewer better, to strengthen a core set of spaces, or venues or initiatives....

The individual assessments would then also have gone to senior layers of management who would set their own priorities on top of the artform priorities and without any level of advocacy for this or that artform at senior level there would be no-one to argue for more money to be allocated in a particular direction and so the chances of anything on the margins of being seen as 'core' as being salvaged at that point would not be likely again if no-one is championing it at director or chief exec level regionally or nationally,

So there is a sense of consolidation of a core infrastructure - and media/digital practices well I think there's been a void at national office for a while with broadcasting agenda dominant and notions of capacity far more of a priority than anything remotely related to sustaining and developing the practice/s.

SO where do we go from here?  It is helpful to consider some form of collective response. There are three letters in Evening Standard this evening in London and some outspoken responses from individual theatre companies for eg but nothing remotely representing this terrain.  I don't think I can lead this as a former ACE Director am probably just too close but am writing a critical text essay for Proboscis at the moment which will allude to the changing environment (which has been visible for some time) ...and also can feed into whatever is drafted....I would suggest emphasis on short-term thinking, lack of ability within the arts funding system to differentiate quality in media culture arena from access and distribution issues and I'd suggest they are pressurised to recruit some advisory expertise from within the field to help make decisions for their future programmes. Absence of any peer review process remains one of the most corrupting elements damaging arts funding here in the past decade along with failure to recognise the decentred and networked nature of media arts culture.

Re asking for documents, just do it....this will help push the profile of what many have probably seen as a non-existent community of practice into the foreground...and make future advocacy much easier also for those who work within the system and have probably not had their voices heard.

with best wishes


On Mar 31, 2011, Clive Gillman <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

This is all a rich vein of conversation, but what can be done ?

There has been a suggestion here that some level of correspondence might 
be appropriate - and I'm sure ACE will be fairly resilient to that - but 
it might help jog the conscience of some officers that a set of 
decisions that may have been taken individually have created a 
compounded effect upon an important area of practice (was any review 
made at this level or were all the decisions made at the individual 
application level ?). So who is to lead on this ? (Bronac ?)

Is there also scope for a more strategic approach aimed at reminding ACE 
of the paradox of their position ? (again this has been articulated well 
in this list over the past 24hrs). However, without an internal advocate 
it might be difficult to get any purchase for such an approach. There 
was a suggestion that other alternative sources of funding from ACE 
might be available from 2012, so perhaps the best that can be gained is 
to get them to acknowledge a mistake that requires a national response 
in 2012 ?

The academic partnership and independent approach are positive stories, 
but personally I'd like to see an Arts Council that recognises that the 
most significant areas of practice are often those in emergent forms and 
seeks to invest and nurture them.

But like Simon, I'm up north across the border and not feeling the pain 
directly, but it has come as a real shock to see so many organisations 
that I have worked with directly being culled in this way. Like the 
early practice of video art in the UK that has been resurrected through 
research projects like Rewind, the best we might achieve here is to hold 
on to some kind of legacy - but perhaps that's better than a landscape 
devoid of any memory of this work and hope for its future influence.