Community media as platform, producer and partner for the arts was coined as a phrase during the development phase of a two year project led by the Community Media Association (CMA) in partnership with Arts Council England (ACE) and Voluntary Arts Network (VAN), this project as a direct activity ran from August 2009 –August 2011. The phrase encapsulates the pragmatic approach to an ambitious programme that was designed to bring the two sectors together so that they could meet, begin to exchange ideas and develop ways of future collaboration. Our work over the two year period was primarily about highlighting and promoting the extraordinary work done by our membership in arts broadcasting and how this work if supported and promoted goes towards developing ways of thinking, and new approaches focused less on arts reportage and “what’s on”, but more on arts broadcasting and broadcasting arts.
The main aspects of the programme included a set of regional road shows, four commissioned partnerships between arts and community media organisations, the development, maintenance and population of an online showcase of collaborative work and continued promotion of the benefits of collaboration by the three partners. The aim of the road shows was to bring the sectors together regionally across England. These full day events set the scene for both arts and media organisations illustrating what community media is and how it fits with the arts, to meet, to question each other and to see and hear first hand demonstrations of existing arts broadcasting partnerships and projects and hopefully be inspired by what they heard and saw. Connect was a series of small commissions that funded partnership approaches to arts and community media projects. The idea was to seed and stimulate collaborative approaches to creative programming. The commissions had criteria that specified each project must be concerned with excellence and innovation in arts practice, reaching new audiences and innovation in approaches to new technologies. The online showcase was a new section of the CMA website dedicated solely to arts activity. It presented examples of good practice and case studies of work developed as well as events due to take place. An important aspect is the ability of arts organisations and members of the CMA to upload their own content, providing an online space that is continually populated and has a sense of shared ownership.