We need a support network to create the best opportunities and best conditions possible at any one time given the starting points of the artistic and creative talent we have and the context in which we are operating. The particular role of a national intermediate agency is to mediate between government policy and the needs of the arts and creative sector.
So, what would a 21st century national cultural agency look like?
How should it operate to provide the best service given the changed circumstances?
It should be more open than shut. Its focus should be on creating opportunity, enabling flow and movement and creating the conditions for creative development and growth. Although it will manage a funding system, which inevitably means restrictions and regulation, this should not be the defining feature. It should be an expert strategic agency which operates a funding system, not a funding body.
It should work across networks and not layers. It should be a connector and a broker of connections
It should be a champion for the arts and creative sector influencing all aspects of society.
It needs to be an expert body. Its defining skills should be specialisms across the arts and creative sector but these should not be organised in silos.
It should be a fleet, flexible and adaptive body, with a 360% perspective. To retain this flexibility, it should be as small as possible, commissioning and contracting time-limited services and programmes from others.These others should include, amongst others, local authorities, creative hubs and other core cultural infrastructure, creative SMEs and other agencies.
This way, all of us can collaborate on providing a network of support, sharing our expertise and knowledge.