The Arts Council has important relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, across Westminster, local authorities, the arts and cultural sector, and the general public.

Our Stakeholder focus research, which has been running since 2009, helps us to understand our reputation and performance - where our stakeholders feel we are doing well, and where we need to improve. It also explores public opinion about public funding of arts and culture and of the importance of arts and culture in people’s lives.

This research helps us to evaluate our progress in becoming more transparent and accountable. What we learn from it informs our approach to delivering the five goals of our 10-year strategy, Great art and culture for everyone. Now more than ever, it’s important that we are aware of how we are doing, and of where we need to focus our attention and resources.

2014 research

This release of stakeholder research brings together our findings from three pieces of research that we ran in 2014: two public polls, and a series of in depth telephone interviews with opinion formers, including representatives from National portfolio organisations, Major partner museums, libraries, local authorities, think tanks and lobby groups.

On the whole, this batch of research gives us an encouraging picture, as well as showing some clear areas for development. We have achieved good standing with the opinion formers who think that we are doing a difficult job well, and that we have made progress with our transparency and accountability. They also expressed desire to see us be still more open about our processes, and to take a visible advocacy role on behalf of the sector. There were also some questions about the ease of the investment process, and the national spread of our funding.

The surveys of public opinion threw up some contradictory results; for example, one question showed a fall in support for public investment in art and culture back to previous levels from a high at the last survey.  However other questions, indicated very strong approval for the current level of public funding when placed in the context of the small amount of government funding culture receives, and for the role of art and culture in education, and for the use of Lottery money. 

We will be learning the lessons of this latest research. It makes a valuable contribution to the Art’s Council’s understanding of itself and the public it serves, and the role of art and culture in our lives.

Plans for future Stakeholder focus research

Stakeholder focus research will continue to be undertaken in 2015-16 and will consist of:

  • a survey of the arts and cultural sector and key partners every 2 years – currently in the field now
  • further public polling work, so we can continue to understand the public perception of arts and culture


If you have any questions about our Stakeholder focus research contact Jonathon Blackburn, Senior Officer, Policy and Research, Arts Council England, via or on 0161 934 4364.