Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Do we need a new agenda for cultural learning?

Following swiftly on the government announcements about the cultural offer and the 'Find Your Talent' pilot scheme, are a couple of timely documents from Demos. I'd recommend anyone involved in education, learning, creativity, call it what you will, to read and consider responding. Culture and Learning: Towards a New Agenda, written by John Holden, is a consultation paper which puts forward an analysis of the current state of play and makes some recommendations for change. Basically he suggests that we need a new agenda for cultural learning, based on a shared definition of cultural learning, shared standards of excellence and methods of impact assessment, driven by clear leadership and strong networks and brokerage. There are a number of challenges to the way things currently are, especially problems of profile, scale and effectiveness and the positioning of cultural learning. (This manifests itself, amongst other ways, in the relatively low earnings of education staff, compared to say fundraising or marketing.) The report is accompanied by a 'context paper' which gives an 'historical' perspective - particularly since the 1990s. I set up the first Teesside Arts in Education Agency in 1997, with a princely £8000 from Northern Arts and the same from local authorities, and it is fascinating to see how things have changed since then, and to consider the power of a well-timed report and initiative from funders.

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