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The Art of Devolution: Culture and the North

25 May 2016

On Tuesday, 14 June 2016 (12pm-6pm) at Old Granada Studios, Quay Street, Manchester, M3


The Faculty of Humanities and School of Arts, Languages and Cultures is organsing a half-day conference on cultural place-making, looking at the implications of devolution, rebalancing and the Northern Powerhouse for the arts and cultural ecologies of the North.


This timely conference aims to provide a space for civic, cultural and academic partners across the North to discuss plans and ambitions for arts and culture in times of changing governance, funding and accountability. It follows the announcement of devolution plans and Northern Powerhouse investments in Greater Manchester and elsewhere across the North, the findings of Select Committee of disparities in regional arts and cultural funding, and is hot on the heels of DCMS White Paper ‘Our Culture’.

These strategic shifts toward decentralisation and place-based policies across a range of policy areas mark distinct challenges for the arts and culture, which has traditionally relied on local authorities in partnership with national funders. They also signal the continuing importance of arts and culture to health, social care and wellbeing, social justice, community participation and cultural democracy, as well as economic development. The conference brings together voices from across the North with national policy-makers, funders and experts to explore these challenges and see how local partnerships and collaborations across sectors can grow sustainable arts and cultural strategies for the cities, towns and the spaces in between across the greater North.

12-1pm: Registration and networking lunch

1pm: Welcome by Fiona Gasper, Executive Director, Manchester International Festival

1.15–1.35pm: Keynote - The future for Manchester’s arts and culture: the challenges for cultural
partners and partnerships delivered by Maria Balshaw, Director of Culture, Manchester/Manchester City Galleries/the Whitworth Art Gallery

1.45-2.45pm: Panel 1 - How best to invest in Northern arts and culture followed by Q&A

  • Darren Henley, CEO, Arts Council England (confirmed)
  • Dinah Caine, Chair of Board of Directors, Creative Skillset (confirmed)
  • Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, North West (provisionally confirmed)
  • Chris Murray, Director, Core Cities (invited)
  • James Thompson, Professor of Applied and Social Theatre and Associate Vice President for Social Responsibility, The University of Manchester (Chair) (confirmed)

2.45-3.15pm: Refreshment break

3.15-3.45pm: Case study presentations on two projects

3.45-4.45pm: Panel 2 – Hearing from the wondrous places of the North - devo deals and plans for culture followed by Q&A

  • Phil Redmond, Culture Liverpool (invited)
  • Patricia Stead, Creative Producer, Dancecity, Dance for the North East (invited)
  • Martin Green, CEO and Director, Hull 2017: Uk City of Culture (confirmed)
  • Annie O’Neill, Museum and Gallery Development Manager, Gallery Oldham, Greater Manchester (confirmed)
  • Francesca Gains, Professor of Politics, The University of Manchester (Chair) (confirmed)

4.45pm: Closing remarks

5-6pm: Beer and cheese networking reception


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