The Power of Partnerships Gathering 2019

The Power of Partnership: Local Cultural Education Partnerships at the Heart of Cultural Education in the Midlands and East Anglia

The Power of Partnerships was the first gathering of its kind, bringing together Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs) from the East and West Midlands and East Anglia. The cross-regional gathering gave LCEPs the opportunity to explore shared experiences, share learning and best practice and imagine possibility for the future of LCEPs.

The gathering explored the prominent themes of Place Making & Identity, Impact & Evaluation, Sustainability & Investment, Young People’s Voice and School Engagement amongst many others discussed throughout the day including the role and benefits of LCEP coordinators, effective communication, working collectively, the roles of stakeholders and most importantly, creativity in LCEPs.

One of the most sought-after and frequently emerging topics of conversation focused on the question “How do we secure our sustainability for the future?”, a question contributed to by David Johnson from Cause4’s keynote who eloquently summarized partnership working as “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. David kickstarted conversations on what the regions’ locality, cultural and educational landscape and partnerships will look like in 2030 and raised the question of “Are we ready?”.

Conversations naturally progressed into discussions around the role of bridges, the cruciality of Development Coordinators and their role to generate income, the benefits of subscription and membership models, the importance of locally rooted authenticity, the worth of flexibility, questions around and limitations of governance and policies and the levels of contribution and strategic engagement from leadership levels. David went on to encapsulate the key ingredients for investment as: something tangible to invest in, a compelling story and time.

We were joined by the wonderful Young Ambassadors from New College Leicester, Highly Sprung in Coventry and 20Twenty Productions in Fenland District in Cambridgeshire who had vital roles throughout the day from posing questions to LCEPs, gathering thoughts, presenting feedback and capturing the event. From this feedback, we raise the important question “As much as we think we do, are we really listening to our young people?”. 

Through consultation with the young people and contributions from Soft Touch Arts in Leicester, several solutions and actions were identified, with the key component being meaningful opportunities. Do we listen to our young people? Do we act on it? Do they have a meaningful role within our LCEPs? Are the things we offer current and relevant to young people? The answer to these questions lies within co-production and co-design with some examples being a young person’s board, grassroots cultural organisations, young people’s steering groups actively listened to by adults and a young people’s breakfast where young people are invited to regularly share their thoughts, opinions and ideas in a safe and responsive place. Eden from 20Twenty Productions eloquently articulated that “Their [young people’s] interests, arts or not, need to be spoken about. It’s one thing talking about them but another thing talking with them”. Acting “with” not “to” proving the key component.

The purpose of LCEPs, to work together to improve the cultural education provision in their locality, was woven throughout the day in its very veins. Facilitated by Marianne Pape from Attenborough Arts Centre, an open space discussion highlighted the essentiality of artists in the local cultural ecology as after all, they are specialists and experts in their provision and field. There were discussions of artist led CPD for teachers, co-commissioned projects with artist, process led vs. outputs by inviting the right practitioners to the right sessions, artists bringing new ingredients to organisations and the importance of imagination and invention.

These themes were tackled throughout the day with a sense of collectively motivated energy. We are really pleased to hear the thoughts of our speakers and delegates.

“The event was an excellent start to developing a more joined up and strategic framework in which we might better demonstrate our impact and influence”

“It was an incredibly valuable day and very reassuring. […] It’s very easy to feel like you’re not doing enough when you’re working at it all day every day, so it was nice to have people say they recognise our challenges and be able to offer us some really practical advice. The hosts manufactured and support a very safe open space where everyone felt they could express opinions with no fear or judgement. I can see no negative points of bringing everyone together and encouraging discussion in this way, it’s only going to make us as a network, stronger”

If you attended The Power of Partnerships, we would love to hear your thoughts and feedback too. Please email to share your thoughts.