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Alan Davey at the National Creative Industries Conference

  • Date: 17 December 2009
  • Area: North

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, was a keynote speaker at the ‘Creative Economy’ conference at the Southbank in London in November, the fifth annual National Creative Industries Conference and billed as ‘the biggest debate in 2009 on the future of the UK’s creative economy’.

It reviewed the latest policy, strategy and best practice to enable the creative sector to flourish.

Alan spoke on the subject  ‘2010 and Beyond’. Highlights of his speech include:

Contribution of the arts

He is optimistic about the immediate future of the arts, partly because there seems to be a genuine acceptance that the arts are a key part of our fabric as a nation. The arts can stimulate economic growth, and our international reputation for cultural excellence makes the UK attractive to investors and visitors.

The cultural sector is the bedrock of our successful creative industries and the UK’s knowledge economy. The UK is the world’s largest cultural goods exporter, with faster growth than any other sector in recent years.

Talking about the investment that Arts Council England makes, Alan says that ‘For every £1 we put in, £2 is brought in from elsewhere. Take away our £1 - you lose £3 - and of course all the jobs and community activity that are intrinsically linked to arts organisation’

Alan stresses that the average Arts Council regularly funded organisation generates almost half of its income from commercial activities with only a third of funding coming from us. ‘It’s a “mixed economy” that uses public money to lever in private. We create very modern, and successful, public-private partnerships.’

Building relationships

When private money is hard to get public investment is even more important, and he highlights our Sustain programme that is offering ‘bridging’ support to help arts organisations through the recessions as well as talking about our own cost-cutting and internal review, stressing that we want to design the strongest, most cost-effective and efficient Arts Council possible.

‘We know our mixed economy model works well, but we have to become a more intelligent partner to the creative industry. I see us as a ‘venture capital’ fund for the creative economy, using our learnings, our experience and our networks to build longer-lasting partnerships with the commercial and voluntary sectors.’

Looking to the future

Alan talks about the opportunities of digital technology and successes and our Digital Content Development Programme that is helping arts organisations create digital strategies.

He highlights our Artistic Assessors scheme that will help inform our future funding decisions, and the major public engagement programme that we will launch in January.

He ends by saying ‘Now, more than any time in recent memory, it is paramount that the cultural and creative industries work together to support our industry. To do so is rational, economically beneficial, and essential to our quality of life. ‘

Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, was a keynote speaker at the ‘Creative Economy’ conference at the Southbank in London in November, the fifth annual National Creative Industries Conference and billed as ‘the biggest debate in 2009 on the future of the UK’s creative economy’. It reviewed the latest policy, strategy and best practice to enable the creative sector to flourish.