The Wider range of voices project aimed to improve the quality of the Arts Council's dialogue and involve a wider range of voices in our policy and decision-making processes. These voices belong to artists, arts professionals, members of the public and other stakeholders.

The research attempted to explore the most effective methods for achieving this. Two projects were conducted as part of the research: one looking at participatory budgeting and the arts, the other an evaluation of the Youth Council project.

Participatory budgeting

Background

Participatory budgeting, a process whereby citizens are given the power to decide how a public budget should be allocated, is a growing phenomenon in the UK. So far it has been used mainly to allocate small, community-focused budgets separate from mainstream funding but it is now also beginning to be used on larger service budgets, which could have implications for many public services.

As a radical approach to devolved power, participatory budgeting is at the heart of the government's agenda to give communities more say in decisions that affect them. Central government explicitly backs the approach and has announced that it wants to see all local authorities use it in some form by 2012.

The study

This study, commissioned by Arts Council England, and carried out by Involve and the Participatory Budgeting Unit (PB Unit) explores the impacts of participatory budgeting on the arts. Participatory budgeting has potential implications for the work of Arts Council England particularly where it involves the public and stakeholders in decision making and its connections to the work with local authorities.

This report provides an early exploration of the trends, views, concerns and predictions around the current and future impacts of participatory budgeting on the arts. It maps the scale and type of arts projects that have been funded by participatory budgeting to date and the factors that have contributed to their successes and failures, and builds on these findings to explore potential future developments in participatory budgeting and how they may come to impact on arts funding.

Youth Council evaluation

This study, commissioned by Arts Council England and carried out by BOP Consulting is an evaluation of the Youth Council project, part of the Young People's Participatory Theatre project (YPPT), a three-year DCMS-funded initiative to develop youth and participatory theatre (2005/06 to 2008/09). This report provides:

  • an evaluation covering how successfully the Youth Council element of the project ran, the main outcomes for participants and stakeholders, strengths and weaknesses, and learning from the project
  • an assessment of wider learning from the project intended to inform debate and practice within Arts Council England and the cultural sector, and to present practical learning points about the issues relating to involvement of young people in decision-making processes

Youth Council evaluation - executive summary Download Word / Download pdf
Youth Council final report - Download pdf