Comment: ‘We can’t lose the value of what we’ve already created in the arts’ – chief executive of Writers’ Centre, Norwich

07:00 15 December 2014

Chris Gribble at the City of Literature writers

Chris Gribble at the City of Literature writers' centre. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant

Conversations about public money being spent on the arts aren’t easy at the best of times.

When money is tight it’s harder still. However, it’s a conversation we want and need to have, and not just with Norfolk County Council, but with everyone who lives in, works in and visits our region.

It’s just too easy to view the arts as simply a ‘nice extra’ for people with enough money to spare.

It’s a lot more complex than that. Alongside the joy, discovery, self growth and sheer fun created by engaging with excellent art, the arts as an industry are part of the deep ecosystem of our economy and self image and a crucial part of the ‘product’ we sell to tourists, investors and employers.

With no arts and cultural scene how many of the students who boost our regional economy would come here? How many fewer visitors would come without the festivals, events and programmes staged here? How many investors, faced with locating a business in place A or B would choose the location without a thriving cultural scene and all the good things that accompany it?

Those who take part in the arts don’t do so in a vacuum.

They spend money in our shops, at our markets, on our public transport and in our hotels and guest houses. We employ thousands of people in Norfolk alone and give our advertising, marketing, PR, IT, cleaning and waste disposal contracts to local businesses.

When public funds are used to reduce business rates or support broadband development it is called investment.

When those funds are granted to the arts it is called subsidy. I think we need to take another look at what counts as investment and be careful that we don’t lose the value of what we’ve already created.

6 comments

  • Might have had a bit more sympathy if they hadn't wasted all that money pursuing a planning application, despite lots of objections, on a building they've now decided they wont use.

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    no name

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Iceni Warrior Says - when your tax collector can force you to pay for someone to make cardboard tower only for it to be destroyed, but hasn't spare money to help vulnerable, then there is something wrong with your society

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    Iceni Warrior

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • We are paying for this extraordinarily well paid army at the Writers Centre: I think there is some fat that can be cut! Chief Executive: Executive Director Programme Director: Comms Director: Finance Manager: Finance Officer Resources Manager: Press Officer: Marketing Officer: Digital Officer: Programme Managers (x3): Programme Coordinator: Programme Assistant: Marketing  Assistant: This team could be support ALL of the arts bodies in Norwich and Norfolk. Just think each grant aided body has duplication in staff. Couldnt they work together on the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Theatre Royal? The synergies and added value would be great. There is not enough of the tax payers cake to go around chaps, so time to share!

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    itsme73

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • The arts should take a complete back seat in times of austerity as there are far more important issues to deal with.

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    John L Norton

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Cannot find annual statement of accounts from Writers Centre Norwich; if we give public money we should know how its spent and what value it delivers. If it is of economic value then surely private sponsorship would also be forthcoming which would reduce dependency on public money, or is that seen as vulgar and compromising by creative folk?

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    itsme73

    Monday, December 15, 2014

  • Judging by their job vacancies page, they are not short of a bob or two, Director of Communications: £33-37k. Jobs like this should be shared with small organisations, just as local councils are now sharing back office services. Looks like Mr Gribble's empire building to me, which we are being asked to fund.

    Report this comment

    itsme73

    Monday, December 15, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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