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Arts Council England launches consultation on peer review and self assessment

04 November 2008

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Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England has announced proposals for peer review and self assessment for regularly funded arts organisations, and is inviting artists and arts organisations to have their say in how it will work.
The news was given last night (Monday 3 November) in a lecture by Alan Davey at the RSA, where he announced that the consultation on the proposals will begin immediately, allowing anyone who works in the arts to have a voice in how peer review and self assessment will best work.

The move comes after Brian McMaster’s report on excellence urged the Arts Council to include peer review and self assessment at the heart of its decision making.

The Arts Council proposes using a combination of self-assessment and peer review. A number of approaches are put forward in the consultation document, including ongoing artistic assessment, sectoral reviews, and occasional one-off appraisals of individual organisations.

It is hoped is that self-assessment and peer review will enable the Arts Council to better understand how organisations it already funds are performing, and will prove a useful tool for organisations seeking to highlight their successes and identify areas needing development. Many organisations already work in this way and the new processes will build on this.

The consultation document is available online at www.artscouncil.org.uk/consultation and all interested parties are invited to respond. As well as considering written responses, the Arts Council will also hold three meetings aimed primarily at regularly funded organisations and other arts sector bodies. These will be held in London, Birmingham and Manchester in November and December and details of times and locations are available on the web site.

Alan Davey said: “What I take from the McMaster report is clear, that all of us involved in the arts will need courage, boldness and ambition. To do that, we’ll need knowledge – and not just from the Arts Council. We’ll need the help of practitioners and audiences.

“This consultation will stimulate debate about how we can establish a community of constructive criticism among the arts that recognises where things don’t work and encourages us to strive for what the arts can uniquely do. We need to ensure that artistic judgement is at the heart of our decision-making.”

A number of the Arts Council’s funded organisations are co-funded by local authorities and the Arts Council will be talking with local government to help ensure that future methods of self assessment and peer review meet local authority needs, as well as its own, and those of the organisations themselves.

The consultation period ends on Friday 23 January 2009 and a summary of responses will be published shortly afterwards. The results of the consultation will help shape a pilot self assessment process in 2009. It is expected that the new self assessment process will be in operation from April 2010 and that some aspects of peer review will be introduced during 2009/10.

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Notes to editors

1. Arts Council England works to get great art to everyone by championing, developing and investing in artistic experiences that enrich people’s lives. As the national development agency for the arts, we support a range of artistic activities from theatre to music, literature to dance, photography to digital art, and carnival to crafts. Great art inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves, and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2008 and 2011, we will invest £1.3 billion of public money from government and a further £0.3 billion from the National Lottery to create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. – ends –