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Chair’s Opinion

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Outgoing Chair of CLOA, Ian Brooke reflects on his two years in post. It’s been a busy two years ….but very proud that I’ve done it.

I’m very proud to have completed my two years as the chair of CLOA (Culture & Leisure Officers Association)

It was great to finish with a fantastic AGM / conference on the top floor of City Hall and I was very touched to hear the kind words from much respected colleagues.

My main reflection over the past two years is I’m more convinced than ever of the importance of a well-functioning professional association. I believe that CLOA has an increasingly important role to play to help to make sure the broad benefits from leisure and culture are understood and effectively achieved.

CLOA is about collaboration, sharing good practice, getting honest views about what does and doesn’t work, being able to easily bounce ideas off colleagues across the country – for me this is invaluable and saves me a huge amount of time.

We work closely with central government and key national organisations such as Arts Council England, Sport England and The National Archives to influence the development of national policies and to lobby for positive change within our sectors.

The Association is not only important in its own right, but acts as the hub for many other influential professional organisations working in the leisure and cultural industry. It provides a unique vehicle for cross-fertilisation of ideas towards common goals and plays an important part in delivering our vision – that every locality has a thriving, high quality and distinctive cultural and leisure offer.

I urged colleagues at the conference to take out a corporate membership – this isn’t about boosting CLOAs membership (well maybe a bit!)  It’s more because I believe it is an easy step to take towards a fuller system approach as you can have more people, hopefully across a range of service areas plugged into the strategic benefits of leisure and culture.

CLOA’s ultimate measure of success is the number of members we have, so it’s great to see our membership continuing to grow and I’m pleased to say that CLOA now has 355 members which is a further growth of 23% since last year.  Most of our members are in senior positons in Local Authorities and CLOAs Executive is made up of senior leaders including Local Authority Chief Executives.

I feel very fortunate to work in a sector that makes such a difference to peoples’ lives. Simply put I believe that leisure and culture are the things that make our lives enjoyable; they keep us physically and mentally healthy and are key ingredients in most of the happy times in our lives. They help bring communities together and cut across societal divides.

It’s no wonder we have so many passionate people working in the sector; it’s because every day they see the difference that leisure and culture make.  CLOA is able to advocate at national level and provides people working in the sector a stronger local voice.

I’ve worked with some amazing people in the role as chair of CLOA, learnt lots and hopefully helped to move CLOA and the leisure and culture sectors forward and will continue to strive to do so.

Now to take up my new role as immediate past chair!

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