Monday, 27 April 2009

What comes after the crunch?

The end of last week was all about ‘the crunch’. Arts Council England announced a number of steps to help organisations weather the recession – you can read about that here . (This includes our reaction to the Budget announcements – well, I say announcements, but as some people have said it to me it wasn’t exactly very visible in the budget, so perhaps I should say detail – of a £4M reduction in next year's budgets. We will not pass this on to any RFOs.) CCSkills and British Council also published ‘After The Crunch’ a helpful book about the role of creative industries in responding to the recession.

This is a really stimulating collection of short essays, illustrations and cartoons about how the creative industries need to look after the recession – if not sooner. Contributors ranging from Charles Leadbetter to Chris Smith via Dave Moutrey, CultureLabel and many others, give short, sharp thoughts on the current situation. If there is a consensus emerging, it’s that we shouldn’t look to keep ‘business as usual’. (This is of course a challenge to anyone, like Arts Council, helping organisations meet the challenge of the crunch – how to help and support continuity whilst encouraging suitable change.)

Editors John Holden, John Kieffer, John Newbigin and Shelagh Wright draw out 12 big issues for consideration if we are to close what they call ‘the gap between today’s reality and the possibility of a creative, fulfilling, greener and more equal society.’ These include issues to do with global competition, intellectual property and open source sharing, administrative and policy coherence, data collection and analysis and metrocentrism (the need to see policy thinking flowing upwards from communities and regions to Whitehall) .Underneath those runs the threat of short-termism. Linking back to my posts about resilience: we need to act now to enhance rather than diminish long-term strength. Anyway, give ‘After The Crunch’ a read: if, like me, you get tired at times of the design speak, I'm sure you'll find the cartoons entertaining!

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