Edition number 51; dateline 2 June 2011

IDS’s CSJ slammed
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a soi-disant thinktank established by former Conservative leader Ian Duncan-Smith, has come under criticism from more informed sources for its More Than a Game report. Professor Mike Weed of Canterbury Christ Church University questions the CSJ research methods and its findings on legacy. Of the specific claim that “there is no link between national sporting success and increased levels of sporting activity” Professor Weed says, “This is the claim that is just plain wrong”, calling other claims in the report “flawed” and “dated”. The best that sports development consultant Jim Cowan can manage is that while the CSJ gets its conclusion about legacy right it does so “for the wrong reasons” and, most damagingly for Mr Duncan-Smith’s team, Tim Lamb of the Sport and Recreation Alliance – whose report on bureaucracy was cribbed by the CSJ – has quite a lot to say on the subject, including, “The CSJ hasn’t taken account of the bigger picture.”

New site and bursaries for the Leading Learning Programme
The National Culture Forum Leading Learning Programme, the scheme that offers high-quality leadership training and mentoring for senior cultural services managers across the UK, is to launch a new website and details of bursary funding for the 2011/12 programme. The website, which can be found at www.ncfleadinglearning.co.uk, is being designed and managed by TLR Communications Ltd to provide a full details of the programme and comprehensive support to those taking part. The site currently offers details of how to join the next cohort, something that will be made a little easier following the announcement of a £3,000 bursary investment by the Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy. Sue Isherwood, director of the Leading Learning Programme, welcomed this support. “We are delighted that the Sport Leisure and Culture Consultancy have made such a commitment in enabling future leaders to access our Leading Learning Programme,” she said. “SLC has created a precedent for others members of the private sector supply chain to follow.” Duncan Wood-Allum, director of SLC, said: “We need to support the future leaders of the sector any way we can. Despite the current budgetary pressures in local government, a talented future leader will be able to benefit from this programme in 2011/12. We urge businesses supporting the sector – especially those that have profited from it over the years – to put something back at a time when we all need to rally round.” Duncan will also be acting as a mentor on the programme.
Find the NCF Leading Learning Programme online at www.ncfleadinglearning.co.uk
For more information on the Leading Learning Programme contact the programme director at leadership@cloa.org.uk
To contact TLR Communications Ltd visit www.tlrcomms.co.uk

Local culture, leisure and sport services: feeling the pain
Cultural, leisure and sports services are taking a disproportionately high share of the pain induced by local authority spending cuts, according to a survey of local authority savings plans carried out by CLOA, the Chief Cultural and Leisure Officer’s Association. The survey shows that around 40% of councils will be yielding culture, sport and leisure savings in line with the overall 21% grant reduction to local government over the first two financial years (2011-2013) of the comprehensive spending review. However, a fifth of councils are projecting culture and sports savings of over 15% across consecutive financial years, equating to reductions in excess of 30%. The services hit hardest are arts, sports development, sport and leisure facilities, and parks and open spaces. CLOA’s newly appointed chair, Richard Hunt, commented: “These findings should be raising alarm bells and a call to action for the culture and sports sector leadership. Local councils are the major investor to support, shape and provide cultural, leisure and sporting opportunities, and across the country investment in partnerships and programmes are currently disappearing or under review… The sector may well be approaching a significant ‘tipping point’ in this respect. My concern is that the sector is losing capacity and leadership at a time when we have opportunities to influence, innovate and improve on the major local priorities facing councils and communities, in particular health and wellbeing reforms, a bigger society and the legacy benefits of the 2012 London Games.”

Retired tired
Pausing only to remark, somewhat cryptically, that “things ain’t what they used to be”, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Vareena Amos is taking early retirement for her current post as sports marketing and events officer. In the heady days when sports development was young Amos was the steel core of the National Sports Development Seminar and although many future doyens of the sector stood on the stage at the East Midlands Conference Centre and put “organised NSDS” on their CVs it was she and her team who ensured that the nuts and bolts were in place. Jonathan Ives, our very own doyen, and a member ‘early doors’ of the organising group paid this tribute: “When I joined the seminar organising group it became quite clear quite quickly that things worked much better when you did as you were told by Vareena. I only made the mistake of not doing what I was told once and not only did I never do it again I was also never allowed to forget it. Vareena’s whole-hearted commitment to delivering an event of the highest quality, no matter how ridiculous the props required by the Steves Bradley and Grainger, made the National Sports Development Seminar a genuinely inspirational event. A huge number of sports development professionals, some now very senior indeed, will owe some part of their career progression to the seminar and to Vareena for making it happen.”

Tokyo to bid for 2020 Olympics
The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) has stated that Tokyo remains focused on a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games following Hiroshima's decision to scrap its candidacy. JOC Olympic cooperation director Yasuhiro Nakamori revealed that Tokyo will make a formal announcement in July. The Japanese capital was unsuccessful in a bid to host the 2016 Games, losing out to Rio de Janeiro in the final round of voting, and its final decision to bid for 2020 hinges on whether Korea's Pyeongchang succeeds in its efforts to secure the 2018 Winter Olympics. The JOC feel that a victory for the South Korean city would rule out another Asian country winning 2020. Hiroshima cancelled its plans to bid for the 2020 Games due to a lack of funding and public support.

Waterways winners announced
The Waterways Trust has announced the winners of its Renaissance Awards which recognise projects that “are using canals and rivers to enrich people's lives across the UK”.  South Yorkshire’s Dearne Valley came out on top in the recreation and tourism category. The Green Heart scheme turned a derelict post-industrial landscape into a rich biodiverse waterscape which created “areas of high amenity value to the local community”. Readers would never forgive us if we did not mention the winning project in the education and learning category, the Coffee and Crochet Group based at the Ellesmere Port National Waterways Museum.

Merseyside on top
Merseyside Sports Partnership has achieved one of the highest retention rates in the Sport Unlimited programme with a score only matched by Living Sport (Cambridgeshire) Northamptonshire Sport, Tees Valley Sports Partnership, Active Devon and WESPORT. In Merseyside the programme has reached 40,410 young people over three years with 28,710 being retained during the life of the programme. Briony Farrell, the development officer in charge of Sport Unlimited and Step into Sport reckons this is “thanks to fantastic partnership working.” Farrell went on: “Research prior to delivery enabled us to identify popular sessions and our partners delivered quality coaching ensuring a high participation and retention rate.”



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Monday 20 June
Wimbledon fortnight kicks off with a couple or three British players winning, some more finding interesting ways to lose and much talk of the struggle to find players able to perform at the top level; this last topic is a concern not just for the LTA but also for the tennis authorities in America and Australia. Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili and Rachel Whiteread are among the dozen artists commissioned to produce posters for London 2012. The British Library is to put 250,000 out-of-copyright books online in association with Google. Donald Trump, entrepreneur, golf-lover and internationally acclaimed idiot, says that his controversial golf course near Aberdeen will open next year but the full £750 million scheme of hotels, apartments and hairdressers will have to wait for a better financial climate. Jack Warner, vice-president of FIFA, resigns and thus thwarts any investigation into corruption allegations. The FA offers Stuart Pearce a new contract in his post as manager of the England under-21 squad, which has just failed to rise above the determinedly pedestrian in their European championships.

Tuesday 21 June
The justice secretary’s plans for reform of the criminal justice system is scaled down – some say binned – by the prime minister. David Cornwell – some say John LeCarré – is awarded the Goethe medal, one of Germany’s most celebrated cultural awards. The Lady Blunt Stradivarius [see WoL passim] is sold for £9.8 million and an estimated 18,000 people attend the solstice celebrations at Stonehenge. Marc Bolan fans are heading to Tate Liverpool in their droves to see The Sixteenth of September, one of the works in the Magritte exhibition; apparently the surrealist depiction of a tree has particular significance for Bolanologists (as no one calls them). Whitbread report profits up on the strength of Britain’s coffee culture; they own Costa Coffee. Outrage in Wales and Scotland as plans for a British footy team in the London Games are unveiled. Sky retains rights to rugby league’s Super League until 2016, paying some £90 million.

Wednesday 22 June
Ai Weiwei is released on bail by Chinese authorities. A study by the University of Heidelberg suggests that living in the city has a measurable impact on mental health. JK Rowling is taking Harry Potter online and a manuscript by Charlie Chaplin of a planned talkie is revealed. Sport England figures show that only athletics, netball, table tennis and mountaineering have increased their participation figures between since 2007; golf and rugby league are among those sports to have their funding cut as a result.

Thursday 23 June
Glastonbury, which opens its doors today, will not be testing its sewage outflow for traces of illegal drugs, thank you very much for asking. We’re all in this together department: bombing Libya has to date cost the UK taxpayer £260 million, says the defence secretary, Liam Fox, who will probably be found to have had his fingers crossed; with every Brimstone missile costing £800,000 and every Tomahawk £500,000 it soon mounts up. The Public Catalogue Foundation and the BBC launch Your Paintings, a scheme to identify each of the 200,000 paintings in the national collection. The latest government department to be cut is the Central Office of Information. Bradley Wiggins says his new coaching team has helped him back into top form for the start of the Tour next week.

Friday 24 June
More London 2012 tickets go on sale at 6am, prompting huge demand and plenty of complaints. Aung San Suu Kyi says that listening to Dave Lee Travis on the World Service helped her during her period of captivity and FIFA reckons that there are no stadia or airport in Brazil and there probably won’t be by 2014, which is when the World Cup is supposed to land.

Saturday 25 June
The Folkestone Triennial festival of contemporary art opens for a three-week run. Picasso’s Buste de Femme (1943) becomes the first masterpiece to be displayed in the Palestinian territories. Art Uncut, the direct action group, is upset by the heavy-handed approach to security at Glasto when they try to suggest that U2 should pay some taxes in their native Ireland. It seems salmon are beginning to return to British rivers but no one is quite sure why. Hard times at Barcelona, where the football club’s finances have required the bodyguards to be made redundant and the photocopier make only black and white copies.

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