Arts Council England boss Darren Henley shares his thoughts on the potential and purpose of the funder's new 10-year strategy, 'Let's Create'.
'You can, if you wish, call Arts Council England’s new ten-year strategy a load of pretentious and perhaps damaging piffle. Some people already have, even though the document (titled Let’s Create) is published only today. What you can’t do, however, is accuse its chief architect, ACE’s chief executive Darren Henley, of failing to consult with the arts world.
“This has come out of two years of talking to people,” Henley says, “and nearly five years — my whole time in this job — of getting out of the office for at least half of every week and seeing great work in every corner of England.
“I have become an expert on making weird train journeys. Truro to Sunderland on a Sunday afternoon, for instance. And also on inexpensive hotels. I can now date the construction of any Premier Inn from the decor of its bathroom floor. It will be my specialist subject on Mastermind.”
So if Henley did all that consultation, and watched all those shows, why is his new route-map for the subsidised arts in England causing such alarm among ACE’s 800-odd clients? Could it be the element of threat it contains? “By 2030,” the document declares, “we will be investing in organisations and people that differ, in many cases, from those that we support today?” What does that mean? Who’s for the chop? And why?' ... Keep reading on The Times