Governance beyond the ‘great and the good’

13 Oct 2021

Our sector is supported by trustees and directors who, through their passion and skills, have stepped up to support organisations when the need has been greatest. But, as Jonathan Mayes argues, our boards could do better.

Is DCMS any longer fit for purpose?

photo of Nadine Dorries
28 Sep 2021

While the appointment of Nadine Dorries to lead DCMS has been greeted with widespread dismay by the cultural sector, Robert Hewison reflects on a deeper malaise at the heart of Government.

Time to challenge the hierarchies

Rampak Genteng
10 Sep 2020

With the creativity of communities finally becoming a policy priority, arts organisations could be handing more control over to their communities. Adam Pushkin explains why – and how – that could work.

Free to speak? Not if you work in the arts

A photo of statues of angels, one with a gag over its mouth
20 Feb 2020

As ArtsProfessional unveils the explosive findings from its recent Freedom of Expression survey, Liz Hill examines the soul of a sector that believes it is owed artistic freedom but doesn’t tolerate freedom of speech within its own ranks.

White-led Chinese art gallery seeks new director

19 Oct 2021

Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) is recruiting a new director following the resignation of Zoe Dunbar, its director of seven years.

Recruitment for a new Community Development and Engagement Manager and new trustees is also under way.

In September, the art gallery said it would set targets for staff and board members of Chinese heritage after facing accusations of “organisational yellowface”.

The announcement came after a working group contracted to address the allegations disbanded before final recommendations were submitted, citing racist attitudes at board level.

The organisation's interim director, Thanh Sinden, is of East Asian descent.

Current Chair of the Board of Trustees Nick Buckley Wood said the centre has been through a “difficult” time.

“But we have learned vital lessons that will prepare us for a much stronger future. I am looking forward to bringing new trustees on board as we prepare to open to the public next year.”

Live venues await green light to reopen in Ireland

14 Oct 2021

Live entertainment is expected to fully reopen in Ireland next week despite concerns over rising Covid cases.

Capacity limits at indoor and outdoor events as well as social distancing are due to be relaxed on October 22, allowing nightclubs to reopen for the first time in over 18 months.

But Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has not ruled out the possibility of an extension: "The Delta wave swept across Europe, but you see countries in central Europe that are now yellow zones or green zones, and we’re still a red zone."

In contrast, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin believes nightclubs have been closed for "far too long".

Ireland's Institute of Public Health will meet next Monday (October 18) to advise the Government.

"We’ve got one of the highest rates of vaccination across the whole world and in Europe - I don’t know what more we as an industry can do," nightlife campaign group Give us the Night's Sunil Sharpe said.

When boards go bad: how to take inclusive action

graphic of two characters arguing
13 Oct 2021

Over the past year, Amanda Parker has been privy to several board-level conflicts that she describes as nightmarish. Boards, she advises, need to ensure democratic processes support equitable redress. 

Where are the young people on arts boards?

Violinists playing
13 Oct 2021

Ten years ago, while most 21-year-olds were exploring their freedom, Toks Dada was spending his evenings and weekends reading company management reports, annotating business plans, and scrutinising financial accounts. Here he explains why.

Questioning assumptions underlying governance

overhead view of a roundabout
13 Oct 2021

Boards in the cultural sector often focus on improving the delivery of a conventional model, but as Anisa Morridadi argues, both trustees and organisations need to change.

On board

picture of a board room
13 Oct 2021

One of the oddities of sitting on a board or being a trustee of a cultural institution is that there are no rules for how to do it - still less how to do it well. John Tusa offers a guide for survival.

UK rejects call to repatriate Parthenon sculptures

11 Oct 2021

The UK Government has rejected UNESCO’s plea to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

A spokesperson said the collection was “acquired legally in accordance with the law at the time,” and any decisions relating to its ownership should be taken up with the British Museum.

The museum said the artefacts are “a vital element in [its] interconnected world collection”. 

"The museum is a unique resource for the world: the breadth and depth of its collection allow a global public to examine cultural identities and explore the complex network of interconnected human cultures."

Greek officials are yet to respond.

Dowden defends war on woke, insults DCMS boss

06 Oct 2021

Recently departed Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says he is not "standing in the way of change" by threatening to strip funding from organisations deemed "too woke".

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, Dowden said organisations "have to demonstrate why they justify the funding" by rejecting aggressive campaigning on issues like decolonising museums.

"When I make interventions in this area, I genuinely ask myself... am I just standing in the way of change in a reactionary way?

"I genuinely do not believe that is the case."

Dowden also appeared to take a shot at DCMS Permanent Secretary Sarah Healey, saying public servants working from home needed to "get off their Pelotons and back to their desks".

Healey was recently quoted as saying she preferred working from home because she could spend more time on her exercise bike.

Heritage tower demolished after Dorries overturns listing 

20 Sep 2021

The heritage sector has criticised new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’ decision to overturn Dorman Long Tower’s Grade II-listed status on her first evening in office, causing the building to be demolished on Sunday (September 19).

The 1950s Brutalist building had been added to the National Heritage List for England earlier in the week following the recommendation of Historic England, who valued the building as “nationally unique”.

But Dorries accepted an appeal from South Tees Development Corporation and Ben Houchen, the Conservative Mayor of Tees Valley, who argued the tower would costs the taxpayer more than £9m if left standing.

Architect George Clarke called the decision “heartbreaking”. Director of The Twentieth Century Society Catherine Croft said “a minister overturning a Historic England decision to list is always concerning”.

Dorries’ decision was based on the view the “building is not of the required special architectural or historic interest to remain listed," according to a DCMS spokesperson. 

How Government can avoid missing the mark on levelling up

14 Sep 2021

If policymakers get it right for the cultural sector, there may be significant economic and social dividends to be won, argues Eliza Easton.

White-led Chinese art gallery vows to change

09 Sep 2021

A lack of leadership, engagement and morale has caused an exodus of staff and reputational crisis - but the centre's position is "redeemable".

Open letter ‘stands in solidarity’ with Frankcom

06 Sep 2021

An open letter to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) board says it "stands in solidarity" with its ex-Director Sarah Frankcom following her resignation in August.

More than 100 signatories shared their disappointment. They said their trust in the board has been damaged and that Franckom has not "been supported as she should have been".

The letter alleges a lack of accountability in the ongoing investigation into Frankcom's leadership.

It says interviews with internal staff have begun "without an adequate, transparent record of minutes" and alleges Chairman Shaun Woodward has called up staff off record.

At the time of publication, the letter had been co-signed by 24 of LAMDA’s permanent staff, 43 of its freelance practitioners, associate artists and visiting directors and 33 industry professionals. 

LAMDA, which is conducting an inquiry into claims against Franckom, declined to comment.

City of London launches review into racism at Barbican Centre

09 Jul 2021

The centre's funder has stepped in after former and current staff called it "institutionally racist" and lobbied for managers to resign.

Southbank Sinfonia merges with St John's Smith Square

07 Apr 2021

The partnership will afford more stability to both organisations as they aim to create "one of the most accessible and creative venues in the country".

'We are sorry': charity admits history of racism in arts activities

15 Dec 2020

Westway Trust says it "has been, and remains, institutionally racist" following decades of allegations.

Planning in a time of radical uncertainty

Electric sign on a wall with 2 arrows pointing in different directions
25 Nov 2020

In these uncertain times, it’s important to return to our core principles: making the most of the information we have and not being afraid to experiment, explains David Reece.


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