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A summer of great art and looking forward

  • Date: 22 August 2011
  • Area: South East
Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England. Credit: David Myers

This summer, we caught up with Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England. She shared with us her thoughts about what developments lie ahead this autumn. She also told us about all the great art she's had a chance to see across the region over the past few months.

Sally Abbott says: 'We’ve been working hard developing our plans to support the sector over the coming years. This now of course includes our new responsibilities for museums and libraries, which we are currently making good progress with. We’ve been talking to our colleagues in museums and libraries to ensure that we understand their important work and put in place the support they need.

'We recognise we’re doing this at a critical moment for arts and culture, both politically and economically, as broader changes to government at a central and local level take effect and as the implications of these changes begin to manifest themselves for cultural services and organisations. In light of these broader changes, we believe there is a real moment of opportunity to serve their users in a new, simpler and more powerful way. Having a single conversation with our partners at local and national level, and uniting these different areas of our culture will enable closer working relationships and a stronger alliance.

'We launched our new arts philanthropy programme Catalyst Arts in June. This is a £40 million fund to help build the long-term resilience of arts organisations by increasing their fundraising potential. The scheme will help small, medium-sized and large organisations alike to develop their fundraising programmes. We will be announcing application criteria and further information in September 2011.

'It was a real honour to attend the launch of the Folkestone Triennial on 24 June. This is Creative Foundation’s second Triennial, but already it is one of the country’s premier public art exhibitions. It was inspiring to see so many people on the first weekend, engaging with the 13 public art commissions, which were placed literally all over the town, including a superb one from Strange Cargo. The Triennial has made a massive contribution to making Folkestone a culturally significant place to visit and to create art in, and more and more it is being recognised internationally.

'Another highlight was the Nat West Island Games launch in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. The New Carnival Company, who will be an Arts Council National portfolio organisation in 2012, produced a carnival parade as part of the launch that had thousands of local people, artists and the athletes competing in the Games all taking part.

'In July, I went to see Propeller Theatre’s Comedy of Errors at London’s Hampstead Theatre. If you haven’t seen Propeller Theatre’s work before, I highly recommend it. They have a real talent for making outstanding work that presents Shakespeare in an accessible way for any audience. Propeller Theatre is another organisation that will be joining our National portfolio.

'I also had the opportunity to help launch a spectacular site-specific performance in Newhaven called Newhaven Cormorant! More than 3,000 local people came down to the harbour and beach to see stunning aerial performances and music from French street arts company, Generik Vapeur. This was an amazing event and was fantastically received by the people of Newhaven, who all seemed to be actually in the show or watching it. The show was produced through an international collaboration with Brighton arts producers Zap Art and the ZEPA consortium.

'This autumn brings a wealth of opportunities for all ages, in galleries, museums, libraries and other venues, and I hope that you take the chance to take part.'