Today (Tuesday 5 March) at 11.30am, new Arts Council England Chair Sir Peter Bazalgette will be taking part in his first live online chat on the ACE chatroom. The chatroom has a limited capacity, and the conversation can also be followed on ACE’s live blog and questions can be asked via Twitter and Facebook
The live chat comes after Bazalgette’s recent interview with The Observer, his first major press interview since he was announced as the new Chair last September, replacing Dame Liz Forgan.
Talking to journalist Andrew Anthony, Bazalgette gave some interesting hints as to his approach, declaring that he doesn’t approve of the word ‘subsidy’ – “Subsidy sounds like a European wine lake. It’s an old-fashioned passive word that I’ve trained myself out of using” – and preferring instead to talk of “seed corn” money and “risk investment”.
His comments have prompted numerous responses on Twitter pointing out that this business-style language sounds very similar to the language used by Creative Scotland, as it sort to combine both arts funding and a creative industries role. The approach resulted in a vociferous backlash from Scotland’s arts community which led to the resignation of Creative Scotland’s first CEO, Andrew Dixon, last December.
Bazalgette also talked in the Observer interview about the need to increase philanthropy to the arts and expressed his concerns regarding local government arts cuts. “It’s a very big worry and I’m going to spend the first six months talking to the Local Government Association and also the local authorities,” he said. “I’m very happy to go wherever I need to. If they withdraw 100% of funding, we can’t replace it. We palpably don’t have the money to do so and that puts those institutions in jeopardy.”
Last week, Labour councilors on Westminster Council wrote to Bazalgette to ask him to “use whatever influence you may have with Westminster City Council to stop the Council from cutting its entire £350,000 a year budget for Arts and Culture over the next two years.” A petition on the Council’s website against the proposals – open to those who live, work or study in Westminster only – has so far attracted over 800 signatures.
The Twitter hashtag for today’s live chat is #ACElivechat and a full, downloadable transcript of the conversation will be available on the ACE live chat webpage shortly after the session has taken place.