The Arts Council: “Every day’s school day”

One of the great personal benefits of being a councillor is that it can create all sorts of opportunities to meet new people and learn new things. Case in point was last Friday where I was invited to the Digital Media Culture and Sport (DMCS) public announcement of £3M to support the arts led regeneration of the row of railway arches that lead from Foregate Street Station past The Hive down to the river. It’s a great scheme that I’ll not elaborate on here as it’s benefits have been extolled widely elsewhere.
However the invitation to me as a councillor meant that I met people and learnt things about the art world that I would never have come into contact with when I was an engineer working for Bosch. To my shame I did not know anything about the Arts Council. The Arts Council receives most of its money from the national lottery and a board of trustees have been set up on a regional basis that judge submitted funding bids so that by and large awards are made non-politically. I asked lots of naive questions including ‘surely in these times of austerity your funding must be under pressure?’. No, because of the lottery funding their income stream is secure and not able to be cut by the whims of government. ‘Yes, but surely post 2008 crash in times of austerity there must be cost pressures?’. No, in tough times apparently people spend more money on lottery tickets. I’m amazed and schooled. Everyday is a school day if you are open to learning. I’m truly thankful for these opportunities to learn.