As we’ve mentioned before, Arts Council England rejected our application to be one of its National Portfolio Organisations because it was decided that Animate Projects did not fit into a “balanced portfolio”. NPO status would have meant core support for three years from April 2012, and would have enabled us to produce around 50 new works and exhibited over 150 experimental works online.
We have since asked Arts Council England, through their ‘complaints’ procedure, about their understanding of our work and of animation as an artform. And we asked Alan Davey, their Chief Executive, about comments he made on The Guardian’s Culture Cuts blog - “Animation is included in the funding decisions we announced yesterday. Yes, it's right that there is no single body dedicated to this work but galleries we fund, and moving image companies such as Film London, Lux and Film and Video Umbrella cover animation as part of their work.”
We said we did not agree with this statement because it confuses animation as a technique with animation as a pervasive artform with a distinct and substantial community of practice. We also outlined how the organisations he cited don’t work with the broad range of people that Animate Projects work with, eg those who may have commercial practice, or work in the creative industries; people who call themselves animators or filmmakers or graphic designers or ceramicists, and who have a range of different histories, traditions, contexts, and practice, and who reach different audiences with their art.
We reminded Arts Council England that Animate Projects is the only cultural organisation of its kind in the world and of the messages of support we have received about the detrimental impact that their decision will have on an entire community of practice.
We asked where there would be support of animation through the Portfolio, and how “the best mix of organisations..in terms of artform” could exclude animation.
Alan said he stands by his comments, and assures us that, whilst Animate won't be an NPO, animation and animators “will have opportunities to be supported through national portfolio organisations...the work of all national portfolio organisations is still being negotiated and the full context will become clearer later in the year.”
At Animate Projects we are now focusing on delivering our 2011 exhibition programme - including the first Animate OPEN, and the forthcoming Digitalis Commissions, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation - and pursuing alternatives to Arts Council support so that we can continue to champion experimental animation.
Thanks again to everyone who has expressed support and sent encouraging messages over the past few months.