NGOs such as advocacy groups, foundations and charitable organisations, research institutions, representative bodies and trade unions have an important role in England and Wales contributing to policy debate, providing resources for research or inquiries to advance the cultural agenda or campaigning on behalf of specific interest groups or arts as a whole. Here are some of the more prominent:
The National Campaign for the Arts is an advocate for more public funding, investment and recognition of the arts. It also hosts an annual Hearts for the Arts Award in partnership with others to honour local authorities and individual councillors or officers who have overcome financial challenges to ensure the arts remain at the centre of community life. It produced the Arts Index 2007-2016 with indicators of trends in such things as audience sizes.
The Creative Industries Federation is an independent membership body that undertakes research, advocacy and policy work to support the UK Creative Industries (see chapter 3.5.1.).
NESTA was established with National Lottery funds in the late 1990s as the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, focussing on a range of areas including the arts and creative economy, the Arts Impact Fund and, by 2021, it is expected to become the world’s leading centre of quantitative research on the creative economy (see also chapters 2.6, 2.8 and 3.5.1).
The Museums Association, established in 1889, is the oldest museums association in the world with more than 500 museums and 10,000 individuals in membership. It campaigns on behalf of museum sector interests. In 2008 in conjunction with the Local Government Association it issued guidelines for museums on the sensitive issue of the disposal of items in their collections.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) has been notable for its contribution to enriching the arts debate by commissioning ground-breaking research or inquiries especially in the 1970s and 1980s, e.g. on ethnic minority arts (The Arts Britain Ignores by Naseem Khan) in 1976 and Support for the Arts in England and Wales by Lord Redcliffe Maude the same year. The focus of its 2014-2019 strategy includes arts with a social impact and it has been conducting a national inquiry into A Civic Role for Arts Organisations (see also chapter 2.7.).
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the largest independent grant-makers in the UK. It aims to improve the quality of life of people and communities and in 2018 awarded grants of GB£ 40.5 million to a wide range of work within the arts, children and young people, and social change areas.
a-n (The Artists Information Company) works through information and advocacy to stimulate and support contemporary arts practice and affirm the value of artists in society.
Trade Unions such as the Musicians’ Union, British Actors Equity and BECTU (Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematography and Theatre) campaign on behalf of their members’ interests or for the interests of the arts as a whole. British Actors Equity for example has been lobbying Arts Council England to take a greater stand against projects it funds paying low wages in contravention of the condition of the grants and has a campaign, Safe Spaces, to counteract unacceptable behaviour.
Sector-specific societies who collect and/or distribute copyright royalties to their members (see chapter 4.1.6.) may also lobby government about issues that affect the intellectual rights interests of their members.