As part of our refreshed strategy, Great art and culture for everyone, we have five strategic goals that are at the heart of the work we do at the Arts Council, and which are therefore an important part of our decision-making process. Read a summary of our goals.

Stage one: checking criteria

Once an application was deemed eligible (see Eligibility), we made an assessment of the quality of the application itself, looking at the organisation/consortium and the programme proposed against the following criteria:

  • how organisations are currently meeting our five goals and how further investment will help them achieve excellence in at least two of them.
  • an assessment of each organisation's plans for area or national leadership.
  • we also made an assessment of the risk associated with each application to see if there are any weaknesses and threats to each organisation's capacity to lead and manage effectively the programme of work was proposed; and for financial viability.
  • if an application was successful, we will use the risk assessment as a basis for tailoring a monitoring plan.
  • if an application was successful, we will expect the organisation to have or develop a business plan that relates to good financial management, workforce skills, environmental sustainability and equality and diversity. Please see our page on Expectations of Major partner museums for more information.
  • we expect to work more closely with applicants with high-risk ratings to develop a robust business plan during the funding agreement negotiation stage.
  • we made our assessments on the basis of the information provided in applications, our knowledge of each organisation, if applicable, and any further information that we have specifically requested.
  • assessors may also have referred to existing documentation about museums held by Arts Council England, for example information on Accreditation and Designation.
  • our assessors used ‘prompts’: that is, questions our assessors ask themselves about the applications to help identify key issues. These prompts are set out in section four of the guidance. It is important to note that not all the prompts are relevant to all applications, and they should not be read as a 'check list' for applicants.

Stage two: balancing the portfolio

In the second stage of our decision making process we had to decide how well the museum or consortium would fit into a balanced Major partner museum portfolio and meet the priorities of the programme. In doing this, the areas considered were as follows:

  • leadership: to maximise the cultural, social and economic impact of regional museums there must be a strong and diverse leadership within the sector. We expect Major partner museums to show leadership beyond the individual museum. We prioritised applications that showed clear plans for wide reaching, empowering and inclusive leadership.
  • resilience: we gave added consideration to applications that showed an imaginative, innovative and adaptable organisation – particularly where there is evidence of the potential for a step-change in this area.
  • geographical spread: we took into account the need to support work by a national portfolio of funded organisations across the whole of England. However, we considered how some organisations work intensively within their home region and some have a reach and impact far beyond their home region. Some will tour widely. We took into account the potential reach of the portfolio as a whole and we were particularly interested in how organisations plan to reach places of current low arts engagement.
  • risk: we took into account the level of financial risk to our investment across the portfolio of museums.

These balancing criteria provide a framework against which we will make an informed but discretionary judgment about how each organisation might contribute to the overall programme. There may be applications that are strong in the first stage of assessment but are not funded because we do not think that they fit into this overall national picture.