Agenda Item No. 8

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 21ST MAY, 2018

 

REFERENCE FROM EXTRAORDINARY LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 23RD APRIL, 2018

 

 

“           ARTS AND CULTURE STRATEGY: AN ASPIRATIONAL AND CULTURALLY VIBRANT VALE 2018-2022 (REF) –

 

The Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources presented to the Committee the Arts and Culture Strategy: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale 2018-2022.  The existing Vale Arts Strategy that was implemented in 2014 had set out a vision for the Council up to and including 2017.  In February 2016, the Cabinet endorsed a new Corporate Plan 2016-2020, which included its vision, values and well-being objectives.  The new Arts and Culture Strategy for 2018-2022 satisfied the actions outlined in Well-being Outcome 3: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale, Objective 6, valuing culture and diversity.  The draft Arts and Culture Strategy: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale set out the priorities over the next four years, as well as its vision and values.  Work had been undertaken to ensure that the priorities in the Strategy were aligned and reflected the priorities of the Vale of Glamorgan, as outlined in the Corporate Plan, the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the Welsh Government Document “Light Springs Through the Dark: A Vision for Culture in Wales”. 

 

The new Strategy set out a delivery plan for increasing arts activity in the Vale of Glamorgan and developing new opportunities to create a 21st century arts programme, centred around the Council’s four well-being outcomes outlined in the Corporate Plan 2016-2020.  Leveraging existing and new partnerships formed an important element of the new strategy, which sought to deepen relationships with schools, volunteer sectors, community learning initiatives and arts development partners to enhance provision and facilitate artistic learning, development and expression opportunities through the lifetime of the Vale’s citizens. 

 

A recently undertaken Arts Strategy Survey demonstrated that those who engaged with the arts in the Vale of Glamorgan were broadly satisfied with what was offered and its accessibility.  However, the Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources noted that the response rate of the survey was low reinforcing the need for additional marketing and a more relevant service offering wider appeal and accessibility, which was reflected in the actions identified in the new Strategy. 

 

The officer stated that the Strategy also set out a number of actions aimed at generating commercial opportunities through the use of the Arts Central space, pending a wider review as outlined in paragraph 12 of the report.  He advised the Committee that since the introduction of the fees identified in paragraph 13 of the report, there had actually been a greater uptake in the use of the space. 

 

Finally, the Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources advised that many of the actions outlined within the new Strategy would be delivered over a number of years.  Specific actions would be included in the Directorate’s service plans, setting out year on year the activities that would be undertaken to achieve and monitor these objectives.

 

A Member agreed with the officer that the response rate to the Arts Strategy Survey was disappointingly low and asked if more could be done to promote art and culture in the Vale of Glamorgan, with more community engagement including older communities as well as schools.  The Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources agreed that it was very important to expand community engagement with the arts, and stated that there was a lot the Council could do to target specific potentially interested communities, and leverage existing relationships.  One way of achieving this would be to better integrate the Arts Development department within the Council and work more closely with other departments. 

 

A Member asked how much of the art in the Vale of Glamorgan was available to school children for free.  In response, the Culture and Community Learning Manager noted that the Council was involved in regional partnerships to support bids and provide free art to members of the public, but stated that this area was not a funding priority for Welsh Government.  The officer stated that bidding in regional partnerships was a collaborative process and this was identified in the Strategy as a key area to improve. 

 

A Member noted that he had been looking at the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s website pages on Arts and Culture, and discovered that numerous links on these webpages were no longer functioning.  The Member asked officers how the Council could ensure that the information on its website remained up to date and culturally vibrant.  In response, the Culture and Community Learning Manager commented that the Arts Development department had recently integrated into the Community and Library Services and this would allow these resources to be kept up to date and improved.  The officer noted that when Adult Community Learning had similarly been integrated into the Community and Library Services, their online take-up increased dramatically, and he was confident the Arts Development department would also benefit.

 

The Committee then discussed publicity for events at Arts Central and best practice for advertising, including free solutions.  The Committee also discussed how to engage members of the public who lived in the Vale of Glamorgan but only accessed art through Cardiff.  It was also noted that there were artists living in the Vale of Glamorgan who also only displayed works out of county.  Members queried if more could be done to co-ordinate local talent to encourage art in the community, including the more rural areas of the Vale of Glamorgan.  The Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources agreed with these points raised by the Scrutiny Committee, and stated that the Arts and Culture Strategy: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale 2018-2022 sought to widen access to all members of the public, and stated that volunteering was a cornerstone in the new Strategy. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture agreed with Members that advertising through a variety of means was important.  He felt that Town and Community Councils could help in taking the message of the Vale Arts Strategy forward, as a collective solution was the best way to proceed.  He also informed the Scrutiny Committee that an all-schools newspaper was being developed which would be in the form of an online blog run through the Council’s Youth Service to help raise awareness amongst schools, including art opportunities.  The Cabinet Member stated that pupils in schools in the Vale of Glamorgan were very talented, however schools were measured only by their academic prowess, where they should also be commended for their cultural successes. 

 

The Chairman urged officers and Members to keep an open mind as to the definition of art in the Vale of Glamorgan.  For example, she felt that the Barry Island climbing wall and the Eastern Shelter were public pieces of art that tied into the built environment and sense of place work.  Regarding generating commercial opportunities for use of the Arts Central space, the Chairman queried how the department sought to achieve full cost recovery.  In response, the Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources stated that full cost recovery was the amount spent by the Council for each event to run at Arts Central.  He stated that events should not need to be subsidised, and should not leave the Council with unpaid expenses.  The officer also confirmed that the scope of art available was important, and it was recognised that the Arts Development department needed to consider better its communication across the Council and as such he recommended that an Art Project Group be established to bridge departments. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Arts and Culture Strategy: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale 2018-22 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T notwithstanding the above, the comments of the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee as outlined above be referred to Cabinet for their consideration.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To endorse the Arts and Culture Strategy: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale 2018-22 and ensure Cabinet was informed of the comments of the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee as part of the consultation process.”