14 July 2016
Dear Amanda and Darren
It’s exactly a year since we wrote to you seeking clarity around public policy and investment for animation. Following the subsequent meeting in December 2015, Arts Council England and BFI agreed action points, and we wanted to catch up on any progress with those:
BFI undertook to define its remit and responsibilities with regards to animation, and to consider its ongoing support for animation, as part of BFI 2022. You’ll be aware that animators have been coming along to the Roadshow consultations, and Animation Alliance UK will be making a written submission, though that will essentially recap what we’ve already said.
We were also told that BFI would do some further informal sector consultation as part of the wider BFI 2022 consultation, and we wonder when that might take place, and with whom?
Arts Council England undertook to define its remit and responsibilities with regards to animation and to explore how it can support animation through Grants for the arts.
We were also told that Arts Council England would do some sector consultation with animation practitioners and organisations in 2016 in order to identify the needs of the sector. Whilst Anna has kept us posted, and we appreciate it takes a number of people at Arts Council England to make it happen, we wonder when the consultation might take place, and with whom?
It is nearly three years since, as part of your Public Value Partnership, Arts Council England and BFI agreed the necessity to provide ’policy clarity and funding information to artists, filmmakers and producers working in animation’ and to ‘undertake joint research and consultation to understand the animation ecology across film and arts and publish our policy position.’
So we look forward to hearing how you’ll be implementing the action points you agreed, and of course would welcome opportunities to be engaged in any discussions and planning.
for Animation Alliance UK
2 August 2016
Thank you for your email.
I have spoken to colleagues who met with you in December and include below the action points agreed in the email they sent you following that meeting, with brief updates against each:
– ACE to do some sector consultation with animation practitioners and organisations (as part of its stakeholder consultation in 2016) in order to identify the needs of the sector.
ACE has now completed its stakeholder consultation on our investment strategy from 2018 to 2022. We ensured that the opportunity to contribute was highlighted to you and we appreciated you including it in an Animation Alliance UK members’ newsletter so that animation practitioners and organisations were aware of the consultation and had the chance to contribute. We do not have further plans for consultation with the sector.
– ACE to define its remit and responsibilities with regards to animation.
In response to the consultation exercise we have published a number of proposals; these include:
Changes to Grants for the Arts
Clarify eligibility and application criteria for creative industries, creative media and digital activity to ensure our investment is able to support a wider range of creative practice that delivers public benefit.
We will consider animation within this. We anticipate that the new Grants for the Arts & Culture programme will open in January 2018.
– ACE to explore how we can support animation through our existing funds, namely Grants for the arts.
We recognise that we have a low number of animation related applications currently coming in to GFTA. We will therefore explore how we can improve the advice we can give to the animation sector. The London Visual Arts team will lead on this. Please note the team has limited capacity for Grants for the Arts advice following our 2013 restructure and therefore the main strategy will be identifying key individuals or organisations who they can inform about Grants for the Arts who will then disseminate information to the wider sector.
You should also note that as part of current work to update the BFI and ACE roles and responsibilities, BFI and ACE will also be considering animation within our arts and film remits, to inform the new BFI strategy 17-22 and the Arts Council’s investments in this area for the period 2018-22.
Darren Henley OBE
Arts Council England
18 August 2016
Thank you for you email of 2 August 2016, in response to our request for an update on the Arts Council England actions promised following the meeting on 11 December 2015.
Whilst we welcome that the Arts Council is considering including animation in is remit and guidelines from 2018, your email does raise some concerns.
On the specific points, you said Arts Council England would:
Do some sector consultation with animation practitioners and organisations (as part of its stakeholder consultation in 2016) in order to identify the needs of the sector.
It is disappointing to now hear that what you meant by this was that animation practitioners and organisations could simply take part in the general stakeholder consultation on Arts Council England’s investment strategy from 2018 to 2022.
This was a broad consultation requesting feedback on your investment proposals, with general and open-ended questions. It could not have been sufficient to ‘identify the needs of the sector’ for animation, and is surely not an acceptable way to go about identifying the particular needs of animation, any more than it would have been for, say, contemporary dance, orchestras, opera, jazz, puppetry, etc.
As we wrote to Arts Council England back in 2012, consultation with the sector would be necessary if the then mooted partnership with the BFI was to be informed and meaningful. The eventual meeting with ACE and BFI in December 2015 was something of a filibuster, but we were encouraged by what we thought was a sincere intention to consult with the animation sector; it seems that you are reneging on that promise.
Define your remit and responsibilities with regards to animation.
It is great to hear that you will consider animation when you clarify eligibility and application criteria for the new Grants for the Arts & Culture programme.
But by ‘remit and responsibilities’ we thought you meant something broader than just in relation to Grants for the Arts. After all, as we’ve mentioned before, Arts Council England and BFI acknowledged in 2013 their need ‘to undertake joint research and consultation to understand the animation ecology across film and arts’.
Also, again, it remains unclear as to how you might define your remit and responsibilities with regards to animation without an understanding of the sector that could only come from a fuller, more meaningful engagement with the sector.
Explore how you can support animation through existing funds, namely Grants for the arts.
It is 17 months before the new programme opens, so your intention to improve the advice you can give in the meantime, for the existing Grants for the Arts scheme, is very welcome, and we expect this needs to happen with some urgency.
We trust you will ensure that the key individuals or organisations identified to undertake this work on your behalf will be credible; we caution that appropriate knowledge and expertise does not exist within the current National Portfolio.
In your final paragraph, you mention that we should note that BFI and Arts Council England will be working together as you establish your respective remits.
That is, of course, welcome, and we have flagged its importance with our members. You first announced a partnership with BFI back in 2013 and since then we have waited for a timeline of how this would roll out, so an indication as to when and how this work will take place, and how it will be informed, would be welcome.
As we said in our submission to the general stakeholder consultation, Arts Council England can seem an impenetrable organisation, and there is a general sense that it does not understand the independent animation sector and the distinctiveness and value of our creative practice. To deliver your action points we had expected there would be more detailed, sector specific, targeted conversations, with animation organisations, artists and practitioners, and still hope that these might take place as you develop the investment plan for 2018-2022.
for Animation Alliance UK
4 October 2016
Thank you for your email.
We appreciate the feedback received from the animation sector to our recent stakeholder consultation and will take this in to account as we develop our investment plans for 2018 and beyond.
Our team will be in touch with you in due course with information on how we plan to offer advice to encourage those working in animation to consider proposals for Arts Council funding. I would like to reiterate that we value the creative contribution of the animation sector and will continue to welcome and support proposals for funding from animators and organisations working with animation that help us to deliver our mission of great art and culture for everyone.
5 October 2016
Thanks for your response. You’ll appreciate that our concerns stand, but I won’t bang on!
We look forward to hearing about the plan to advise and encourage animators. And appreciate your saying you value the creative contribution that the animation sector makes.
As you continue your work – clarifying eligibility for the new grants programme, and working with BFI on your respective remits – it might be useful to note that when you were embarking on earlier discussions with BFI, it was around the time of publication of the Accelerate Animation report (ACE-Gfta and Jerwood Charitable Foundation supported its publication). Alan Davey mentioned that the report would be ‘a useful reference point for ACE and BFI staff’ and that it would help inform how ACE and BFI would work together to further support animators. It’s a fast moving environment, of course, but I’m sure that much of what is in the report is still relevant.
All the best