As the year winds down under a blanket of snow, we're taking a look back at some of the more important messages that emerged from the comeback year gone by, and ahead to how we can address them in the new.
The arts, culture and heritage sector's initial triumph in welcoming back audiences has been tempered in more recent months by the existential threat posed by the cost-of-living crisis, and a degree of uncertainty in the wake of some of the more controversial funding decisions announced in November. Our founder and CEO, Anne Torregiani, has been drawing on recent findings from our Cultural Participation Monitor nationwide survey to offer practical advice about how we can come together in order to support our communities, and each other, through the worst of it.
You might follow the regular musings of our dynamic Head of Digital, Adam Koszary, in his fortnightly Digital Snapshot - if you don't, we highly recommend it. Adam has sliced some deeper cuts as well this year, from considering the dangers of being left behind if arts organisations continue to allow the internet to redefine culture without them, on one hand, to the rich audience development possibilities afforded by successful storytelling on social media on the other. Most recently, Adam has put forward the case for what Twitter's ongoing turmoil might mean for our sector.
The ongoing work to champion equity and access for all audiences has seen great success in recent years, so the impact of the pandemic on disabled people's ability to stay engaged with arts and culture is something we've monitored with keen interest throughout. We voiced concern back in the summer that disabled audiences risked being left behind in the rush to return to 'normal', which is why we are so glad that ACE has now decided to move forward with our advice for a UK-wide Disability Access Scheme, the benefits of which we hope will be far-reaching.
Way back when in July 2021, when Covid still loomed large, we found encouraging evidence that engaging with arts, culture and heritage organisations' offerings was having a positive impact on people's mental health and sense of personal wellbeing. Since then, we've broadened our interest to the creative activities that people pursue of their own accord and, as part of an ongoing investigation with Arts Council England and Centre for Cultural Value, have been collecting people's inspiring testimonials about their own creative outlets - we'd love to hear from you too!