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Arts Council England: Public Body Review

Volume 747: debated on Friday 15 March 2024

Today we are announcing that the second stage of the public body review into Arts Council England is under way.

The public bodies review programme delivers against the commitments made in the “Declaration on Government Reform” to increase both the effectiveness of public bodies and departmental sponsorship, making Government and public bodies work better in service of the public. Public body reviews will be underpinned by broad minimum requirements covering efficiency, efficacy, accountability, and governance. The review will follow guidance published in April 2022 by the Cabinet Office: “Guidance on the undertaking of Reviews of Public Bodies”.

Arts Council England is an executive non-departmental public body, and was established by Royal Charter in 1946. It is one of the Government’s primary vehicles to support the arts and creativity in England. Its role encompasses funding and investment, research, support and advice to the sector, and partnership promotion.

The Government are proud of the work they have undertaken with Arts Council England, providing increased investment in arts and culture through its most recent funding portfolio, and spreading opportunity across the country to a record number of organisations.

The Department has agreed to commence a full-scale review into Arts Council England, and Dame Mary Archer has been appointed as the independent lead reviewer. She will work with a review team composed of officials from the Department and an advisory board of people with a range of experience in the arts and culture, detailed below.

Dave Moutrey (Chair)

Sir Damon Buffini

David Butcher

Tony Butler

Leila D’Aronville

Nathaniel Hepburn MBE

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall

Sir Simon Robey

Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL

Professor Katy Shaw

Sarah Staniforth CBE

Jo Verrent

Dr Sharon Watson MBE DL

Sue Williamson MBE

The terms of reference for the review have been drafted following consultation between the lead reviewer, the Department and Arts Council England, and the review will broadly look at the following areas:

Arts Council England’s delivery model and whether it is correct to deliver effective outcomes for the public;

Arts Council England’s grant monitoring procedures and overall efficiency;

Arts Council England’s statutory functions;

Departmental sponsorship; and

Arts Council England’s accountability to the Department, respecting the importance of the arm’s length principle and the Arts Council's responsibility as custodians of public money. In conducting the review, officials will engage with a broad range of interested parties in the arts and creative sectors across the UK.

As set out by the Cabinet Office guidance, the review will report to the Government, and the Government will publish the conclusions of the review and any Departmental response in due course.