Exeter Cultural Partnership

Engaging, empowering, energising culture in Exeter

Notes from Exeter Music & Sound Forum, 20th July 2017

Thursday 20th July 2017

Sound and Music Forum

Exeter Phoenix, The Workshop, 6.30pm

Chaired by Simon (Notes by Mariko North – apologies in advance for spelling errors, unclarity etc)

 

Around 18 people turned up to the 2nd Sound and Music Forum

 

Whilst introducing ourselves, the point was made that one important aspect of getting audiences for gigs and events that we are putting on is to let each other know when we are doing things, and in turn support each other by showing up.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Tom Matthews (sound engineer) would like to get the word out that he is involved in the 2017 Exeter Street Arts Festival which will take place on Saturday the 26th of August throughout central Exeter (Princesshay, the High Street, Phoenix Centre – including an after party). Musicians welcome to get in touch. http://exeterstreetartsfestival.co.uk/

Emma Welton will also be performing on the 1st of August at the Phoenix Centre as part of Exposure Exeter for BBC Radio 3 http://www.exeterphoenix.org.uk/events/exposure-exeter/

 

IMPORTANT COUNCIL CHANGES: Val Wilson, Exeter City Council's City Arts & Events Manager is retiring at the end of March 2018 (link to full article here: http://exeterculturalpartnership.ning.com/profiles/blogs/exeter-cit...) The main gist seems to be that the council has used this time as an opportunity to review and change how it delivers, manages and coordinates Cultural Events in Exeter. Some concerns were raised in the forum, including the fact that: “as of 1 April 2018, the post of City Arts & Events Manager is amended to Events Manager” – the dropping of the word “arts” was seen as potientially negative, as it could lead to a general rounding together of all kinds of events, such as sporting events, with more attention being given to events that are likely already highly-funded and seen purely for their monetary value, rather than supporting less mainstream, more diverse cultural and artistic events which generally require more support. Replies to the above message are to be made by Friday 28th July. Mike Westbrook has proposed drafting an open letter to the council, protesting against the dropping of the word “art”.

Additionally, the question was raised about the council: Who is  responsible for the artistic vision in Exeter? Is it the councillor? The Officer? Who are they? Are they trying to outsource? The Exeter Cultural Partnership needs to be balanced. Will there be anyone within the council with knowledge, experience and empathy with the arts?

At this stage the Exeter Community Forum was brought up. It may be more relevant at present than the council. It is centred around St David’s and St James’ and could include arts and creativity events.

HAVING A VOICE: Following from the above, Music and Sound do not really seem to feature in the Exeter or South West. There are no obviously specific music organisations to give us a voice. Perhaps the forum could help shape and develop this voice in the future.

FUTURE GUEST SPEAKERS: Several people were approached to come and speak to the forum although no one was available for this particular date and/or there was a question of fees for speakers. Someone was invited from Exeter University Arts and Culture representatives but was not able to attend. Social media experts were also approached – Matt Young normally charges a fee for this kind of consultation, but was open to the idea of holding a future Q&A session with a contribution to expenses. Obviously, this would need to be agreed on by all members of the forum.

Another person who was mentioned was Andy Williamson in Ashburton, who managed to set up an arts organisation in Ashburton and raise the money to buy the Chapel to turn it into an Arts Centre. He would be particularly interesting to inspire and share his experiences.

PROMOTION FOR EVENTS: Roz Harding shared her experience of running gigs with the Barnfield Theatre for 3 years running a series called “A Message From” which she wrote the music for, promoted, and performed in – managing a core audience of around 40-60 people permonth. She also managed to do a gig exchange with London. Whilst she said this was a valuable experience, she has now stopped running regular concerts, and is now running them on a more ad hoc basis, due to the sheer volume of work involved. The point was raised that in general it is very difficult for local musicians and sound artists who may not be already famous to get gigs within Exeter, despite the high calibre and availability of local talent.

 

VENUES (including one WITH PIANO): Once again, the issue of lack of dedicated music venues that can be used by local professional musicians was raised, particularly those which are not churches and with a modern piano (3 pedals i.e. built within the last 80 years and well-maintained). This would not only benefit pianists, who cannot be as flexible with venues due to the cost and logistics of transporting their chosen instrument (particularly re classical and contemporary classical piano, as opposed to jazz musicians who may choose to use portable digital pianos in some cases), but could provide a focal point for future music events and festivals as well as a long-term legacy for the city. Alex Wilson and Mariko North have suggested that it may be worth investigating the possibility of future fundraising for a suitable instrument, and either negotiating with a local venue, or finding suitable storage (although this is purely speculation at present). Other suggestions from members of the forum were to investigate whether there were willing country homes or grand houses that may be open to the idea of hosting a concert series throughout the year. It may be worth contacting the Devon and Exeter Institution as well as the Devon Association, the Bikeshed Theatre, the Boatshed, the McLaine Buildings down by the Quay etc. Obviously there need to be different visions for the different venues.

LIVESTREAMING: For those really struggling with venue audiences and size, someone also mentioned that it may be worth livestreaming from small/private places which can keep costs down. A website called streakjelly may be worth investigating. Balcony TV in Exeter can film live performances, and there is a rating option and a pick of the month slot, which can be good for promotion.

VENUE DATABASE: Marie Belston may have a database of venues within the Exeter Area and should be contactable through the Music in Devon Initiative. Otherwise it would be a good idea to find or create one.

EXETER PHOENIX – kindly provided The Workshop free of charge to host the forum this time. They also can be used as a venue with a split door fee solution, depending on which time of year (summer is the least busy, and therefore the most likely time for this kind of arrangement), and they can help with event promotion. If you are thinking of applying, it would be great to have some links to audio or video

BIKE SHED: wants to offer music to people coming out of early evening shows, as well as open mic nights, and may be open to ideas.

NING – at present, it is still agreed that the NING should be the main source for the dissemination of the minutes. You do need to log in to find all the information (it won’t come to you). It is not 100% clear if you will automatically receive updates for everything re the forum and beyond, or if you need to actively sign up to follow specific things. You can contact other individuals in the forum through the ning. It would also be helpful to develop our online presence where people can contribute.

NEXT MEETING: The suggested date was Wednesday 13th September, 1930 in the Workshop at the Phoenix, hopefully with a guest speaker (suggestions welcome)

Future aims: we need to develop some kind of structure, with proposals to take to venues and give a clear voice for music within Exeter cultural life, as well as exchanging lateral ideas with others. 

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hey Emma,

thanks for this - sounds like it was another productive meeting.
Good that you discussed the new ECC post and these excellent questions:
"Additionally, the question was raised about the council: Who is  responsible for the artistic vision in Exeter? Is it the councillor? The Officer? Who are they? Are they trying to outsource? The Exeter Cultural Partnership needs to be balanced. Will there be anyone within the council with knowledge, experience and empathy with the arts?"

cheers,

s

Hi Stuart.

Yes, we weren't able to answer these questions ourselves. If anyone reading this can, please tell us! Of course, Councillors and Officers are welcome to attend the Exeter Music & Sound Forum, Weds 13th September, 7.30pm. Or if not, answers in this discussion are welcome and will be fed back.

Best wishes

Emma

I'm sure the St James Forum would be willing to participate in discussions about Arts projects within the area covered by it's Neighbourhood Plan. If you don't know anything about the area covered by it www.exeterstjamesforum.co.uk should supply some of the answers. They are currently involved in discussions with neighbouring areas such as Newtown and St David's, but are only one with a plan in place. As an aside St James as a ward no longer exists, it co-exists with Duryard for City Council elections [interestingly with an L a C and an LD Councillors ] and with Newtown for County Council elections. I'd be happy to liaise with anyone who wanted to explore possibilities. St James also has the newest "Pocket Park" in Exeter in Queens Crescent Gardens which the City Council has bought with a compulsory purchase order.


hey David - this was the subject of a discussion at Exeter Community Forum last week! Happy to pick this up with you on a different thread, or IRL!
Dr David Treharne said:

I'm sure the St James Forum would be willing to participate in discussions about Arts projects within the area covered by it's Neighbourhood Plan. If you don't know anything about the area covered by it www.exeterstjamesforum.co.uk should supply some of the answers. They are currently involved in discussions with neighbouring areas such as Newtown and St David's, but are only one with a plan in place. As an aside St James as a ward no longer exists, it co-exists with Duryard for City Council elections [interestingly with an L a C and an LD Councillors ] and with Newtown for County Council elections. I'd be happy to liaise with anyone who wanted to explore possibilities. St James also has the newest "Pocket Park" in Exeter in Queens Crescent Gardens which the City Council has bought with a compulsory purchase order.

Hi Emma,

My attention was mainly caught by Patrick's offer. I presume we wish to raise our profile and what better way than to reveal our various musical talents at a dedicated venue ie the Phoenix. I  have to admit I didn't join to become part of a pressure group. Perhaps this is what a forum is.

Sorry I couldn't make it again. Am also concerned re dropping of "Arts". Suggest an Open Letter to the Council comes from both EVAF and EMSF?

hey Clare,
let's not waste time - writing, correcting, ratifying, etc
Please let's write our individual letters to ECC - tomorrow is the deadline.
s

Clare Bryden said:

Sorry I couldn't make it again. Am also concerned re dropping of "Arts". Suggest an Open Letter to the Council comes from both EVAF and EMSF?

David,
it's hardly a 'pressure group' - the infrastructure that underpins the arts delivery in the city is being dismantled. Quite ridiculous to suggest you want to keep fiddling while Rome burns, I'd say.

s


David Sawyer said:

Hi Emma,

My attention was mainly caught by Patrick's offer. I presume we wish to raise our profile and what better way than to reveal our various musical talents at a dedicated venue ie the Phoenix. I  have to admit I didn't join to become part of a pressure group. Perhaps this is what a forum is.

OK, writing to Victoria Hatfield, copied to JP Hedge, Rachel Sutton as Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture, and Councillor Greg Sheldon as Member Champion for Arts and Culture

Did anyone receive a reply from Victoria Hatfield ? 

Oops, yes I did. Note eg "We are looking to amend the post title [from Events Officer] to Culture Officer"

Clare

Thank you for your comments in relation to the proposals surrounding the Events Officer post.  I would like to clarify a few thoughts that have been feed back to me mid-process.

 

The Arts & Events budget is not being reduced, the current budget is 415k, which includes salaries, arts grants, project funding and the budget for events managed by the Arts & Events Manager.  This budget will increase by £15,000 next financial year due to monies being transferred from the economy budget, which goes towards supporting the Exeter Food Festival.  As a result of the redundancy and expected reduction in salary for the Events Officer post, the salary saving will be transferred into the revenue budget, which will cover the £20,000 contribution to the Exeter Cultural Partnership. 

 

Arts grants and project funding that is provided through the Arts & Events budget, will not reduce or change.  The new events grants will be available for any organisation to apply for, including arts and cultural organisations.  The only proviso is that they don't currently receive an arts grant or project funding, so don't end up being double funded.  The panel that will be set up to award grants and project funding will be fully independent, members will not be in receipt of Exeter City Council arts  / events grant or project funding. 

 

The changes taking place are as a result of the Arts & Events Manager indicating her proposals to retire March 2018.  We are looking to make changes to the service area as we will be unable to recruit a like for like for both positions within the service, they both have unique skills, experience and knowledge which are irreplaceable. The process we are currently going through is following the City Council's Organisational Change Policy, under no circumstances is this being rushed through.  From the start, additional time was allocated to the review stage (which started in May), the consultation stage (which started in June) and the implementation stage (which will start in October).  The Arts & Events Manager very kindly notified us of her intention to retire in March 2017, which is allowing us 12 months to implement any changes.

 

The portfolio holder (Cllr Sutton) and members have been fully engaged throughout this process, with the proposal being presented at Executive committee on 11 July, which received full cross party support.  Additional discussions have taken place with Cllr Sutton, Human Resources, Unison and Jon-Paul to ensure we are following the City Council’s Organisational Change Policy and involve both staff affected by the changes. 

 

Not having art in the job title does not constitute that art is no longer a priority for the City Council.  Art & culture is still a top priority from the highest level in terms of current funding, future planned developments in the city and the importance art & culture plays in attracting people to live here, study here and relocate their business to Exeter.  We are looking to amend the post title to Culture Officer and amend the job description to include roles and responsibilities related to culture.

 

As mentioned in the proposal, the Exeter Cultural Partnership will take on the strategic direction of arts & culture within the city, with the development and implementation of a new Cultural Strategy for Exeter.  There has been a number of responses to the consultation requesting the new contribution to the Exeter Cultural Partnership be withdrawn.  The consequences of withdrawing funding would be that the Cultural Partnership are unlikely to apply for Arts Council funding to develop a new Culture Strategy and support the art & cultural sector, as limited match funding would be available.

 

I hope the above alleviates any fears you have regarding the proposals. 

PS. Just reading the refreshed Exeter Public Art: Commissioning Guidance at https://goo.gl/udbBrk... "The ECP has, almost, all the right representation, apart from the local authority planning/public realm/Placemaking officers from ECC to take things forward."

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