To recap…back in 2011, in one of her webchats, Liz Forgan, then Chair of Arts Council England, answered an AAUK query about their support for animation. She told us they were having discussions about an ACE/BFI partnership “as work crosses over… particularly in animation…”. And last November we were very pleased when ACE Chief Executive, Alan Davey, said (in his webchat) that the Arts Council is “committed to supporting animation” and that they would work together with the BFI “to further support animators in both development, production, networking and knowledge sharing in 2014/15″.
He promised that more details would follow in early 2014, but things went a bit quiet…so in August we asked Alan for an update. He told us that ACE continues to be engaged in detailed conversations with the BFI but that a discussion about animation has yet to take place and that it is now not going to happen until 2015/16. That’s disappointing, but could be simply because it’s part of much bigger discussions, rather than animation falling off their agenda.
At least a partnership finally exists and ACE has shared with us their new ACE/BFI Public Value Agreement, to run from 2013–2017, which recognises that the two organisations share “a strong commitment to increasing public engagement in culture, supporting excellence, developing creative talent and contributing to the vibrancy of the UK’s creative economy”.
ACE tells us that initially an Action Plan was being developed alongside the Agreement, but they found that, given “the range and scale of work on which [they] could focus, more work was needed to produce a jointly agreed and targeted action plan”. So, the first year of the partnership will be a foundation year “to allow our teams to become more familiar with each other’s activities and plans and use 2014/15 to scope a programme of work with the BFI to cover 2015-17”.
Again, whilst this delay might be frustrating, it could be sensible: the draft plans were seriously ambitious, and it will be important to get right things right. For film and moving image generally, they intend to “map the territory… increase public engagement” and to set out “to support innovation in creative talent, content, audience engagement and business models across our sectors”, with a new fund and a professional skills development and mentoring programme to support new creative media, art and film innovation”. For animation specifically, the draft plan stated their intention “to develop a policy position for animation in England and the UK, providing policy clarity and funding information to artists, filmmakers and producers working in animation” and committed “to undertake joint research and consultation to understand the animation ecology across film and arts and publish our policy position”.
So it seems, overall, a positive and steady step in the right direction. We will continue to monitor how this progresses and keep the Alliance informed!
[We’re not aware that Arts Council England has consulted anyone in the sector. If they’ve been in touch with any members, we’d love to hear about the discussions.]