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New Caithness Arts Forum - Minutes Of 5 February 2007

14th February 2007



George Bruce OBE, Caithness Partnership (interim chairman)
Eann Sinclair, HIE Caithness & Sutherland
Cllr Roger Saxon
Graeme Smith, Caithness Partnership
Lorna Simpson, Ormlie Community Association
Shona Macdonald, Highland Council
Sheila Swanson, Caithness Arts
George Gunn, Caithness Arts
Trevor Williams, Caithness Arts
Iain Gunn, Caithness Arts
Linda Hutton, Caithness Arts
Sally Edwards, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Christine Russell, Caithness Arts
Katrina MacNab, Pulteneytown Peoples Project
Anna MacConnell, Caithness Partnership

Welcome & introductions
George Bruce welcomed members to the meeting and explained that the Partnership had been asked to help set up an Arts Forum for Caithness. He stated that there are great benefits in working in partnership to focusing on a particular issue and in working together to solve problems and lobby for change.

Background to the meeting
Anna MacConnell explained that the Caithness Arts seminar on "The Value of the Arts to Caithness" in December 2006 had concluded that a local forum is required where agency, business and voluntary representatives could come together with equal status and discuss issues relating to the arts in the county. Caithness Partnership was to facilitate getting the Forum set up and this in turn should enable the Arts sector to participate fully in the community planning agenda in Caithness.

Terms of reference
After some discussion it was agreed that a constitution is not required for the Forum but that a simple terms of reference should be drafted which will include the following objectives:
To develop a local policy for arts (and this will include an emphasis on the need to support artists financially)
To provide a forum for the exchange of views on how member organisations can work together well
To develop a higher profile for the arts economically and culturally
To allow communities to feedback about their arts activities/projects
To help develop a common view of the arts as integral to a healthy economic and social infrastructure
A simple terms of reference would be drawn up and circulated to the group.

It was felt that more people could be included in the Forum, or at least be given the opportunity to participate if they wished. The next meeting would be advertised in the press and Caithness Arts Newsletter and held as an open meeting. A democratic process to appoint forum members would take place then and these would be agreed representatives with a mandate from the community to represent it. It was felt that membership should be open to anyone with an interest in the arts.

Next steps
A review of the Caithness Arts strategy is required that is more "community minded". This should be on the agenda for the next meeting.

The Partnership had agreed to facilitate a meeting of the various groups in the community that were either disposing of a building that might become an arts venue, or seeking to build or convert a building to provide a venue for arts or other community activities/events. A date for that meeting has yet to be set.

Draft Culture (Scotland) Bill
The draft Culture (Scotland) Bill gives increased responsibility to the local authorities for developing the arts. The Forum feels that this will only be feasible if the Scottish Executive provide the necessary funds to support this new role. As well as funding to support the arts the local authority funding for training their staff to carry out the additional specialized work. There was a fear that funding for arts activity provided regionally to Highland Council may not be spent across the region but be centred on activity in Inverness. The group felt that any response to the draft Bill should include reference to commitment to spread entitlement throughout the region. Caithness Partnership to draft a response to the consultation and circulate to Arts Forum members.


Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held at a venue in Thurso (possibly North Highland College) on Wednesday 28 March at 7.00pm.

See Also

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