@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • Decision Day: ACE Funding & National Portfolio #acefunding #NPO

    July 1st, 2014mardixonCulture

    I was not going to write about ACE Funding / NPO Day but I’ve been following the stream on Twitter since 7.30am and can’t believe some of the emotions coming out in 140 characters.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 09.55.50As someone who has a major hate/hate relationship with ACE, it’s easy for me to spend my time bashing them and their work.  [For the record, my issue is to do with their forms, not the people!] But this isn’t about that.

    Starting at about 8.30, I started to see congratulatory tweets – mainly theater based companies.  By 9.30 the hashtag was overrun with … really don’t want to say winners and losers.  How about we say successful and unsuccessful applicants.


    I thought the embargo was on until 10 but hey ho, right?

    Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 09.53.08By 10am, the ‘official’ time of the announcement – we had tears, cheers, and many reasons why the decision was unjustified and/or the best one EVER!

    Before the live streaming started, everyone road an emotional roller coaster that was enough for anyone to last a week let alone before we started.

    During the conference, lots of emphasis on diversifying and shifting more outside London.  I was going to start a Klaxon but wasn’t sure it was the right time or place.

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     Twitter was going mad during the live stream. While most involved knew the results, it was their friends, followers and advocates that were just finding out. 

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    By noon, everyone seemed to be needing a nap from all the emotions from the morning.  We also started to see the start of many press releases explaining what today means to the individual places.

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    Overall, there are a lot of tough times ahead.  ACE has clearly strived to make the shift in monies outside of London and in turn recognized that talent and creativity can happen in other areas.  For London’s part, it would seem to be sending a message that more needs to be done to share across the country – and I can’t help but wonder if this means more touring and partnerships or better use of digital/tech solutions.

    ianandcharlotteA few years ago, in one of our many conversations, Ian Jenkinson who was Head of Visitor Engagement at Natural History Museum, told me that the sector as a whole needed to start looking out how to run things using a business model.  I argued with him (of course) as I felt that would take away from what I, and many, loved about museums and art galleries. But he went on to explain that there was a solution – a mix between hard core business models and something softer that fit the ethos of the sector.  Sadly, Ian passed away May 2013 but I have to give him credit.  While the ‘business model’ we currently see being played out with ACE and the sector as a whole might not be right, I think it’s because we haven’t found that the right mix.

    Hopefully the Government will also start to notice the vital role culture plays in our society.  The cross-over into tourism seems to be buried at times.  The emphasis on young people, while admirable was completely negated after the Olympics when majority of the Cultural Olympiad Stories of the World stopped all funding – leaving many young people worse off then when they started.  (I know this from being involved/founder of Teens in Museums).

    For those that don’t know, I also founded CultureThemes – this was started 3 years ago when the last round of ACE funding was released.  There was a lot of negative and unnecessary negative-tone tweets being shared.  While the news was disappointing, it wasn’t the visitors fault.  CultureThemes runs a fun hashtag once a month (anything from #MusCake, #MusSocks to #WhyILoveMuseums, #MuseumSelfie and helps with #AskaCurator Day).  At the bottom of every website update, I put this simple but powerful quote:

    A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive. ~National Museum in Kabul

    I know we need to look at the long term goal and see this as a marathon and not a race.  I just don’t know if the plasters on many involved will last that long.

    For the full breakdown, see this matrix: 


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