Guest Blog from Peter Gaw, CEO of Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries

Guest Blog from Peter Gaw, CEO of Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries, ahead of the event Landmarks of Cultural Education, on Weds 29th Nov.

Posted: November 3rd, 2017

Darren Henley, Chief Executive at Arts Council England, has referred to Libraries as Landmarks, saying:

“Libraries reach people everywhere. They’re landmarks in our great towns and cities offering creative opportunities to everyone including in those areas where the arts and cultural infrastructure is thin. We want the contribution of what libraries already achieve and what they could in the future to be better recognised. "

[Read more here.]

Ahead of the Cultural Education Partnership event in November celebrating Libraries: Landmarks of Cultural Education, we spoke to Peter Gaw about what he was looking forward to most about the event.

Why do you think Libraries are Landmarks of Cultural Education?

Libraries are wonderful places of cultural learning that welcome in, and are truly valued by the communities they serve. Libraries sit as Landmarks in our cities, towns and our smallest villages. They are safe and trusted places of creativity, cultural spaces that offer; literature- from early readers to dedicated study; heritage- including celebrating the local and preserving for the future; learning- from supporting individual studies, to a programme of courses; arts- offering the opportunity to work with local artists as well as sharing exhibitions and music- including concerts and tuition.

What do libraries, in particular, have to offer when working in partnership with other cultural organisations & schools?

Libraries are one of the most visited public places in the country. Playing a key role to changing library audiences into arts audiences, Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries, is a great example of how libraries work within the wider cultural sector. The venues are perfect spaces for offering opportunities for organisations to work together and strengthen both the library offer and support the Cultural and Education sector. Libraries offer access to resources for free and can give local cultural access to communities. Schools can build a longer-term relationships with our spaces across all the cultural strands, developing a cultural curriculum for the young people we engage with.

What excites you most about the future of libraries and their role in communities?

What next is always the most exciting thing. As Inspire Libraries becomes an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) I am most excited to see where it takes us. With such a strong offer to children and young People I can’t wait to see the development of new relationships and celebrations of achievement the planned work will bring. We are one of 6 library services about to become an NPO and it will, without doubt, for many change the perceptions of what libraries can be.

The Cultural Education Challenge is about reaching every child and young person through joining up provision, what do you think the key barriers are to engaging with the whole community?

The Nottinghamshire Cultural Education Partnership is just beginning and is focused initially on Ashfield and Mansfield. As the partnership moves forward, one of the outcomes needs to be bringing the brilliant cultural offer of the area into view for the community and specifically schools. We need to use the right language to engage education colleagues and celebrate the successes to evolve the offer together in future and widen the partnership to the whole county in the longer term. Together we are stronger has to be the mantra.

What are you most looking forward to about the event on 29th Nov?

Putting teachers, library staff, artists and cultural organisations together is a recipe for great things and I know that everyone, including me, will leave the conference with new connections and ideas to take the next steps towards a collective cultural offer. I can’t wait.

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