A troupe of non-state actors?
by Samuel Jones
Matthew Taylor has added his thoughts on the RSA blog in which he identified the confusion between purpose and methods, governance and engagement that organisations in the third sector must confront. He's right in this, but I'd also want to look deeper than the structures of organisations and how they articulate their mission, to the workforce that comprise them.
It's easy to forget that while cultural and creative enterprise can, and often does, deliver services and offers valued by the public and generate wider goods, that delivery also presents a profound challenge to the sector. This is about far more than the conventional instrumental benefits of culture and creativity and deals with the very heart of what they are about, discussions and expressions of value. How are the core, basic skills of cultural delivery as conventionally perceived geared up to provide for an environment that is better thought of as cultural reflection or enabling?
One participant in the session rightly pointed out, 'enabling' could be too top-down a word, but I think that there remains a role for expertise in many cultural and creative roles (see the piece on 'The New Cultural Professionals' in Production Values a few years back). It is more that the relationship of that expertise to the public needs a real and open re-evaluation. So, the question is how the emergent role of cultural and creative enterprise sit with the current work-force and, in particular, the skill-sets and training of potential employees? Are curators, film projectionists, ballerinas and so on cut out for the job of responding to the kind of roles that cultural and creative institutions and organisations might soon be expected to fulfil?
The answer - in many brilliantly manifest cases - is yes. But it is as often no. And reasonably so too. At the moment, people taking up courses in art history, drama, dance tend to be thinking more of Roger Fry, Stanislavski and Sir Frederick Ashton than Mark Moore. But, thinking again, don't artforms deal in values? They are what Bill Ivey has called the 'expressive life'. So what's the connection to be made?
It's not that some of the wider roles discussed in the session this morning create unfair expectations; rather, I think that it calls for a radical review of how the cultural and creative sector and change of how the cultural and creative sector is perceived, why it's important and so what reasons people might in the future have for entering it. From this basis, we can begin to think about how the many values that culture represents and creativity expresses can play an influential role in the coming years.