Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Talking to the Arts Council

Long phone conversation with Nick at the Arts Council about the failed application to fund the research trip. He's very honest about what he calls "a paradox in the system", which is that while they encourage artists to research and develop work, they also need lots of detail on the expected results before they can fund that research. Apparently our application would have been stronger if there had been a list of people I would be meeting - difficult given that one reason for the trip is to find out who the people are that I need to meet! Still, he's impressed by the news from the Columbia Foundation, which he says makes an application for a touring grant more likely to succeed (I suppose on the basis that if somebody else has already made a decision, you're more likely to be right if you make the same one).

They've also sent me a consultation form to help with their response to the government's white paper on youth. Lots of the basic ideas in all this I agree with (of course) - arts are good for young people etc. But I'm very wary of the utilitarian tone of the whole thing, and try to indicate this in my answers. They ask what can be done to stop young people taking drugs, drifting into crime etc. If I'm expected to say "get them acting", I disappoint. This is really a question about the spiritual crisis besetting our society: and, while the arts certainly have a role in whatever regeneration can be attempted, it's not a simple thing like "provision of opportunities in youth theatre". We need to search for new routes to spiritual truth - and perhaps then we'll be able to convey them more widely through our fragmented world.

It doesn't sound very like funding-speak, does it?

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