Alan Davey, Liverpool, 2008.
Credit: Piers Allardyce
In 2009, Arts Council England started to build a strategic framework for our decision making, our investment priorities and our relationships with artists and audiences. We began by setting out what we care most about over the long term and how we would approach our mission of enabling great art for everyone. We wanted to establish a framework to help focus our development work and as a point of reference for funding decisions. We believe these are essential steps in being a clear-sighted, transparent and responsible funder.
As part of the process, we held a major open public consultation, which ran from 19 January to 14 April 2010. We felt that in formulating a set of long-term ambitions we must first consult with the artists, arts organisations and partners who would be involved in shaping and achieving it. The Arts Council cannot achieve its mission unless it works collaboratively, so we felt that our partners must have the opportunity to shape our plans.
In our consultation paper, Achieving great art for everyone, we proposed a vision for the arts over the long term, five goals through which we would realise the vision, and some thinking on how the Arts Council and arts sector may need to work differently to achieve the goals. We asked a number of questions to understand stakeholders' views on the proposals and to gather ideas on how they should be developed further.
Over 2,500 people participated in the consultation - a great response. The thoughtful responses we received have strengthened our determination to work more closely with our partners, building on the process that began with the Arts Debate in 2008. So that we could do full justice to the views we received we appointed independent analysts Dialogue by Design to produce an in-depth, balanced account of responses. I commend their report to you as a fantastic reflection of the rich variety of comments the consultation generated.
What we hear from the consultation responses is that there was general agreement that we understand the challenges and opportunities ahead, and overall support for our vision, but that this support is qualified in ways we need to consider. There was support for the goals as a powerful focus for the Arts Council and its partners over the coming decade. There was discussion of some elements of our proposals that respondents felt we had got right, as well as issues that people felt we had missed. Finally, there was a call for more detail on how and when these plans are to be implemented.
Overall, what I took from the responses was an encouragement to be even more ambitious for the arts. That is a challenge I like.
Chief Executive, Arts Council England
Read Achieving great art for everyone, our 10-year strategic framework for the arts, published November 2010.