Arts Funding Questions for the West Midlands

The think-tank Midlands Arts Progressive has compiled eight wuestions for the West Midlands Regional Authority Mayoral Candidates around arts funding in the region. Although West Midlands based they have implications to many areas. See what you think.Midlands Arts Progressive

A Set of Questions on Arts, Culture, and Creative Industries Issues for Mayoral Candidates
Election May 2017

Midlands Arts Progressive (MAP) is a think-tank focusing on progressive strategies for the arts, culture and creative industries. MAP exists in two parts. The first is a loose-knit group of artists and other workers in the sector who meet monthly for informal discussions on topical and regionally relevant issues. The second part is a wider network of artists and representatives who receive monthly updates of discussions and can input as and when they wish.

The eight questions below centre around issues that MAP believes are of regional importance, and on which, we believe, a future Combined Authority Mayor could have significant influence.

Please feel free to circulate and use these questions; but please credit Midlands Arts Progressive when you do. The questions can be found on

For further information find Midlands Arts Progressive on Facebook, or email, or Rod Dungate (Convener),

Our Eight Questions

Rebuilding the Arts Sector
As you are aware serious funding cuts, across the region, have left the arts and culture sector in crisis.
How do you envisage working with the Arts Council and West Midland local authorities to rebuild the sector, incorporating the potential leverage you may see in new forms of investment for cultural activity, especially from the private sector?

Creating a Vigorous and Diverse Cultural Ecology
If life has become very hard for major cultural institutions then it has become even more difficult for small arts groups, community arts companies and projects.

What arguments can you put forward for the importance of the wider arts ecology of the region running parallel with the grand institutions and centres of excellence?

Strategic Creative Industries
The West Midlands region, centrally placed geographically within the UK, has a great deal of creative talent and strong infrastructures to support creative industries yet is treated as a UK poor relation, particularly by decision makers in London and the South East.

What steps would you take to support inward investment in the arts sector, in particular Stephen Knight’s film studio at the NEC, the relocation of Channel 4 to Birmingham and the re-establishment of a strong BBC presence in the region?

Creating Better Places
Increasingly our communities are being deprived of high quality places in which to live; this is happening through inadequate planning and integration with health, arts and culture facilities. Local arts and culture facilities, as well as local heritage and the physical environment are vital for a community’s well-being. 

How will the mayor ensure that effective strategic planning is put in place and when would the mayor aim to publish such a plan to support, nurture and develop better places which respect our heritage and environment, and ensure effective access to arts and culture? 

New Art and Artists
A robust cultural sector must constantly be refreshing itself with new talent, but new talent needs nurturing.

How will you develop, support and encourage an environment in which young artists, emerging artists and new arts organisations can develop their work and their skills and knowledge so they can contribute to the Region’s economy and cultural ecosystem?

Arts and Culture Partnerships with Education
There are many examples of valuable partnerships between arts organisations and individual artists, and educational establishments at primary, secondary, tertiary, FE and HE levels; but these are dwindling in number.

How would you use your role as Mayor to encourage vigorous partnerships and how would you measure the health of this strategy?

The Region’s Archives
An archive is always greater than the sum of its parts, but only as great as there is access to it. This region has a large number of significant archives held by organisations and individuals; they are our memories and our histories, our heritage.

How will you support the care and maintenance of these archives, the creation of new ones, and the appropriate linking of them so that they become, effectively, a unique single archive of many separate parts that can be readily accessed by all interested parties?


We have set down a number of critical issues which are hindering the growth potential of our arts and culture sectors across the Midlands. There is a leadership void across the Combined Authority area when it comes to arts and culture. Culture cannot be ignored when it lies at the heart of the quality of life for so many people as well as providing an outlet for hope and aspiration. The lessons from all this, are that arts and culture leadership matters. Art, we should note, is the important mirror, watchdog, and critic of society. This is an opportunity for the new Mayor and his office to take on that mantle and ensure that development of soft infrastructure  and invest in all aspects of arts and culture driving and nurturing the creative work of the sector.

How will you, as Mayor, champion and promote the Arts and Culture in the West Midlands and what form of new leadership will you create?

Rod Dungate
Convener: Midlands Arts Progressive

f: Midlands Arts Progressive

2017-04-09 16:37:08

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