Back in March, I wrote about the contributions made by creative and cultural organisations in Brighton & Hove towards the programme developed out of the ABCD Plan for Cultural Recovery. Initially from their existing budgets, and later through the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, these funds directly supported freelancers to be involved in the planning and delivery of the programme and enabled more freelancers to take part in the leadership support project. They also helped leverage in other funding and sent a strong message to funders about the commitment to working collaboratively for the benefit of the sector.
While the ABCD Plan was a direct response to the impact of the pandemic on creative and cultural workers, many of the issues highlighted are long term. As we move forward from pandemic recovery, there will be a greater need than ever for strategic city collaboration, not least because of the impact of the cost of living crisis on creative and cultural workers and businesses.
So, as organisations started to grapple with Arts Council England’s latest round of National Portfolio funding, we invited any organisation think of applying to be an NPO to a meeting to discuss collaborative working and how it might be support through NPO applications.
It was a difficult ask. Most of the existing NPOs in the city are small organisations that receive relatively small amounts from ACE. All of the organisations already support freelancers in a myriad of ways through their own programmes, but we were focusing on a framework and infrastructure that would enable greater impact through strategic collaboration modelled on the ABCD programme.
We had some frank discussions, with varied perspectives which helped further define our common purpose. The outcome was that 16 organisations applying for NPO funding – some existing NPOs and some hoping to join – committed to including a contribution towards strategic city collaboration in their budgets and narrative.
This in itself deserves recognition, regardless of the outcomes of the applications (which will be revealed early in 2023). It was an acknowledgement that the future strength of individual organisations is underpinned by the overall strength of the creative sector in the city, and we hope and believe that it will strengthen the applications of those who were able to commit to the initiative.
At a recent session to review and refocus the ABCD programme, Carolynn Bain from Afrori Books, coined the phrase collaboraction, as an exhortation to ‘do’ rather than just ‘talk about doing’, which caught on very quickly with the 50 people in the room. We hope that whatever funding and in-kind support comes forward from this process, will help ensure we exemplify the spirit of collaboration.
We’d like to acknowledge and thank Brighton Dome & Festival, Carousel, Culture24, Creative Future, Dreamthinkspeak, Fabrica, Lighthouse, Little Green Pig, LOOKOUT Brighton, Marlborough Productions, New Writing South, ONCA Gallery, Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust, South East Dance, The Old Market and Vincent Dance Theatre.
ABCD Programme Manager