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Directors Blog on influencing the decision makers / 31 January 2011

Accentuate has had a busy January, catching up with our projects after the Christmas break, meeting with the Our View Core Group and attending events.

One exciting opportunity to showcase Accentuate and the organisations we work with was a visit by Andy Hunt to Surrey and Kent. Andy Hunt is the Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association (BOA). Accentuate was given the opportunity to present to him during his visit to the impressive Surrey Sports Park. Surrey County Council provided a very inspiring programme of activity, including an international flag project presented by local schools.

Surrey is also a hotspot for high-quality disability arts organisations, and Emma took great pleasure in introducing StopGAP as part of her presentation. StopGAP are part of the Accentuate leadership project, Sync South East. They have also been commissioned as part of the Accentuate project Celebrate and Commission.

StopGAP performed The Voices Within Ourselves. This is the first piece Anna Pearce and Hannah Sampson dance together as StopGAP apprentices, choreographed by StopGAP’s Chris Pavia (a dancer with Down’s Syndrome). This ‘work-in-progress’ was first created over a two-week period in October 2010. The Voices Within Ourselves creates a ghostly atmosphere, where an invisible figure trails a lonely woman in a dark forest. The shadowy presence builds to torment her, and in her anxiety, the search to uncover ‘the presence’ begins…

January appears to have been an excellent month for Accentuate to explore one of our key aims: to influence decision makers at the highest level. The visit by Andy Hunt provided a great opportunity to put this into practice. Emma’s presentation set the work of Accentuate in a regional and national context, and explored our main objective of creating a cultural shift.

Accentuate also had another opportunity to do this when Esther and Emma met with Damian Collins the MP for Folkestone. Damian Collins is also Chairman of the Conservative Arts and Creative Industries Network, which was launched in May 2009. The Network brings together individuals who work in the arts and creative industries with the Culture Ministerial team, MPs, and senior figures in the Conservative party involved in developing policy in this area.

This meeting was instigated by Screen South to talk about the broad spectrum of their work and provided Accentuate with an excellent opportunity to talk about some of the detail of our projects. Esther and Emma felt pleased that Mr Collins was enthusiastic about the programme and could see the potential benefits and learning. We hope he will continue to be interested in Accentuate and this will be just one of many discussions.

Emma and Esther are also looking forward to attending the Campaign! event in early February at the Houses of Parliament. There will be a series of events where the young people who have been working with the Accentuate project Campaign! will present their campaigns to a panel of decision makers, including MP’s and Ministers.

We are very excited that at all levels we are setting out to influence those who may be able to bring about change and the cultural shift we are seeking. Watch this space...