A 'grand and enlightened partnership' that benefits everyone and leads to real impact is the way ahead for universities, cultural organisations and great cities like Birmingham, Alan Davey said yesterday.

Speaking at the University of Birmingham's University Annual Meeting, the new BBC Radio 3 Controller and former Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: 'Throughout this period there has been a degree of realisation that different cultural organisations are in this together, that there is an audience to grow generally and that growing the audience will benefit those who are doing interesting work, which everyone aspires to do.'

Speaking of his new appointment as Controller of BBC Radio 3, he said it was 'a great privilege to lead what I believe to be a fantastic but little realised cultural institution – the Proms, the Performing Groups, and Radio 3. The Proms – the greatest classical music festival in the world. The BBC orchestras and choirs – currently on top form with some amazing conductors and performing innovative repertoire live and on air, and leading top class educational work.'

Mr Davey spoke of the need for partnership working to make the most of all parts of the 'Radio 3 family' – Radio 3, the Proms, and the BBC's Performing Groups. He also reflected on the BBC's 'Get Creative' campaign, run in conjunction with the 'What Next' network of arts organisations as an example of partnership working.

Creating the conditions for culture to thrive has economic, social and educational benefits, Mr Davey added, insisting that the higher education sector should be a key part of any art and culture partnership.

'The sector has much to offer in working at the innovative edge of knowledge and the kinds of areas artists love to explore,' Mr Davey said. 'You have facilities and cultural assets which should be seen as part of a city's cultural offer, you are constantly investigating and pushing boundaries, and there is much the cultural sector can benefit from, from a closer relationship with the higher education sector.

'We have a great example here at [BBC Radio 3] – a partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find new generation thinkers; those engaging in interesting research who can be given a platform to explain their work to more people by being trained as broadcasters.'

Mr Davey praised the University of Birmingham's partnerships with arts organisations, and the work of its Digital Humanities Hub and its work with the city's museums and libraries.

He said: 'This is a good example of what can be done and why it is of benefit. It is an important part of the offer to students, for the connection with the city, and for the innovative, knowledge expanding and investigative roles of any good university.

'Only with such partnerships can we find a way for culture and the curious, exploratory nature of those involved in creativity to thrive in times of increasing fiscal adversity. But it is important that it is seen just as that – real partnership. Not cosying up to someone to see if you can get their money to replace what you might not have, but to recognise and respond creatively to the contribution and interests of all partners. That's the way ahead – for universities, for cultural organisations, and for great cities like this one – a grand and enlightened partnership that benefits everyone and allows a real impact to be made.'


For more information on the University Annual Meeting, please contact Deborah Walker, Head of Communications, University of Birmingham, on +44 (0)121 414 6681.

For enquiries regarding Alan Davey, please contact Alexandra Heybourne, Head of Communications, BBC Radio 3; Performance/Dance TV; BBC Classical Music, on +44 (0)7973 189 364. 

  • The 2015 University Annual Meeting will be the third since it was created as a new keynote event in the University calendar.
  • The event is for invited guests only and aims to provide an opportunity to celebrate the breadth of University of Birmingham reach and achievements as well as to thank our stakeholders for their ongoing commitment.
  • See Alan Davey’s speech in full.