Edition number 8; dateline 18 December 2007

Leisure and culture central to Children’s Plan
The government’s Children’s Plan makes interesting reading for leisure professionals. Announced last week by Ed Balls, secretary of state for children, schools and families, the plan has been presented as a “new era for kids’ play and positive activities for young people”, offering a radical overhaul of how schools interact with children, parents and communities. It includes ambitious targets and big numbers in the finance columns. It is a document noticeably heavy on aspirations directly relevant to the realm of leisure. One of the fundamental aims of the Children’s Plan is to “make sure that young people have exciting things to do outside school, and more places for children to play”. Some £225m is to be allocated over the next three years to build or upgrade 3,500 playgrounds and establish thirty new adventure playgrounds. A project to establish or extend youth activity centres will receive £160m. Other aspects of the plan include planning guidance to acknowledge the needs of young people and more 20mph speed limits, particularly around play areas. Links between education and other local services will be established to make schools central to their communities, co-locating health services, social care, welfare, advice and police services on school sites. In preparing the Children’s Plan, Mr Balls’s department, the DCSF, has apparently analysed over 150 national and international research studies and surveys. It has been able to conclude that “parents and children report that investing in activities, facilities and parks for children and young people was amongst the most important things government could do to help them.” All children, the DCSF notes, “no matter where they live or their background, will have opportunities to get involved in high quality cultural activies in and out of school”.

Tate Modern: see it while you can
If your fondness for Tate Modern is based upon the beautiful bulk of Gilbert Scott’s Bankside power station you have only a few years to enjoy the purity of its graceful lines. However, if you love Tate Modern for its ability to show works of contemporary art you have only a few years to wait until you have much more space  in which to move around. A government grant of £50m has been awarded to Tate Modern to help fund a new extension that will put the nation’s most popular gallery on a par with the space available to the Pompidou Centre and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Designed by Herzog and de Meuron, the new building will provide an additional 6,000 square metres of space over eight floors on the south side of the existing building, taking the total display space from its current 9,000 to 15,000 square metres. The total cost of the project is expected to be £215m and the Tate will be looking to private finance to meet the target. However, Tate director Nicholas Serota did not rule out additional conversations with the lottery about the scheme. Announcing the government’s largesse, culture secretary James Purnell emphasised the creation of a brilliant art space that would be free to enter for all members of the public. “Tate Modern has been a runaway success with the public from the day it opened,” he said. “I know that this new development, which we hope will be completed in time for 2012, will prove once and for all that London is the cultural capital of the world.”

Sustrans ready for action
After winning the People’s £50m Lottery Giveaway last week, Sustrans has declared its Connect2 project ready for action. John Grimshaw, Sustrans’ founder and chief executive, was delighted with the award and emphasised that plans were already well advanced. “We start work on delivering Connect2 in January 2008,” he said. “Our local authority partners are poised ready to go and will be adding matched funding from their own transport and other budgets to the £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund. This is a five-year project and in total we have already identified nearly £100 million of local authority funding to support Connect2. We are working hard to bring even more funding to the project so that we can ensure as many people as possible benefit from Connect2.” The three other schemes involved in the competition – The Edge at Eden Project, Sherwood Forest’s Living Legend and the Black Country Urban Park – will each receive £500,000 in development funding. The public vote followed a short series of late-night slots on ITV promoting the projects and around 280,000 people voted, a number that may raise concerns with lottery trustees when they come to assess the success of the public vote concept. Given the popularity of the BBC’s Restoration series, run in prime early evening slots with much higher voter numbers, not to mention the ongoing concerns regarding the probity of telephone voting, they will have much to discuss.

New kids on the stone
Recent activity down by the riverside seems to suggest that the leisure press is to be expanded as ISPAL plans its own magazine. Recent correspondence to ISPAL members from the chief executive promises the results of a membership survey (apparently six hundred responses were received) and “the new ISPAL members' magazine that will be sent to you in early February”. This may or may not have come as a surprise to the good people at Leisure Media, publishers of Leisure Management magazine (home to a regular two pages on the workings of ISPAL), Leisure Opportunites, Health Club Management and other esoteric titles. However, it was no surprise to the institute’s various regional and national outposts who had been contacted about contributions rather earlier. We look forward to adding the ISPAL organ to our list of ‘must reads’ and seeing how many home nations have filled their respective pages.

News from the departments
Perhaps it is our jaundiced eye but all roads out of Whitehall seem to be leading to leisure these days. Here we offer a swift rattle through some of the announcements from the government’s various departments that may be of interest to the leisure professional about town.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge has placed a temporary export bar on a portable astrolabe quadrant, unearthed in Canterbury. The first independent evaluation report into Building Schools for the Future has been published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The DCMS has committed £500,000 to supporting the development of live music rehearsal space. Local people will have the opportunity to give their views on their priority concerns for their local councils and agencies as part of new plans published by local government minister John Healey. DEFRA has announced funding of nearly £3.5 million a year for the next three years to support Rural Community Councils across England. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has confirmed that the 23 August - UNESCO's day for the International Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition - will be adopted as the focal date for national commemorations in future years. A new written agreement, titled the Central-Local Concordat, will radically transform the relationship between central and local government and provide unprecedented new freedoms for local areas and communities, according to the DCLG. DEFRA has published the Ecosystems Approach Action Plan to set a new direction for government policy on the natural environment. England's National Parks will get £9.6million more over the next three years. DEFRA’s annual grant to the eight National Park Authorities and Broads Authority will rise from £44.4million to £48.9 million in 2010/11.


Who’s Whom

After much speculation, Nicholas Penny is to succeed Charles Saumarez Smith as the director of the National Gallery. Mr Penny is currently head of sculpture at the National Gallery in Washington DC. Diane Lees has been appointed director of the Imperial War Museum. We are also sad to report the death of Sue Stayte following a long illness. Sue had been a member of staff at the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM) from its inception. She also founded the Institute's trading company, ILAM Services Limited, and served as its director for many years. She will be missed by all her friends and colleagues in the leisure industry.



News in brief
Staccato reports from the cultural typeface

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Nicholas Penny
Nicholas Penny: coming to a National Gallery near you


Tate Modern
Tate Modern: soon to be extended



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