Tuesday 17 June 2008

Flying Hounds Full of Grace

Now that is an amazing title ; it is the name of the collective of designers and architects who are remodeling the main Arts gallery in Rotterdam , the amazing Boijmans Museum. I'm wondering if it is copyright because it's an incredible name for a third sector organisation . Perhaps a bit too left field for acevo but I would hope we might fit that description?
I was taking a break from the Dutch Civil Society Congress . They had broken for workshops which were all to be in dutch and , I shamefully admit it is not a tongue with which I am greatly familiar.
A gallery of some rare gems interspersed with yards of tedious still life's and bourgeois dutch burghers. I prefer my art with Saints in ecstasy , languorous St Sebastian's and luscious Madonnas. These were in short supply . Though there was a very great double portrait by Oskar Kokoschka ; so good I went back to look 3 times before my duties to the Congress pulled at my sleeve .

A rather fun plane journey back to London City Airport in a small aircraft . Flying low we had a great view on the approach up the Thames Estuary . And back in time for the ncvo annual reception in Portcullis House . Great to see many friends . A good talk with Stuart Etherington . I even got him a replenish of his glass of water . Yes , I repeat , a glass of water . In fact I broke my rule on the consumption of poor quality wine when I discovered the House of Commons Chardonnay was not that unpalatable. Especially when well chilled. Great to have a chat with both Greg Clark and Phil Hope . Consecutively. I wanted a picture of the 2 with me in the middle , but alas ,where are the sector press when you want them ??

But one reflection ; it is very clear that the UK has a much clearer and stronger relationship with Government than any other country I know of . I was talking about the Compact and the work of The Office of the Third Sector and our Minister with the Dutch . Although they have a strong sector , they have nothing like the links we have here. This is something we should be proud of .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was interested to read that 'it is very clear that the UK has a much clearer and stronger relationship with Government than any other country I know of...This is something we should be proud of...'

Does a strong relationship with government only have an upside?

Does it carry any risk of the third sector becoming an extension of government policy?

Here are some observations drawn from my own practice about why the relationship with government should be questioned.

Some third sector organisations feel they are 'losing their soul' as they try to follow government policy and funding rather than follow their service users' and community priorities. As Ernesto Sirolli said at a Local Enterprise Growth Initiative conference a couple of years ago (and I paraphrase) 'these people are not going to make enterprise work in their communities because they do not understand it. If the government had decided that duck farming was the future of these communities we would be having a conference on duck farming. And they would not understand that either'.

Chasing the funding is often at odds with pursuing a real sense of purpose and mission. It drags us away from our areas of strength.

Government is obsessed with what is wrong in communities rather than what is right. This perpetuates the narrative of fear, failure and wrongness that characterises so much of the community development debate.

We should only be proud of our strong links with Government if we are absolutely certain that they work for the benefit of our communities and not for the benefit of the government.