Theatre in Wales

Commentary and extended critical writing on theatre, dance and performance in Wales

INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE ARTS C

Summary of the main points of the Wallace Report

SUMMARY AND PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATIONS
1 September 2000

1.The Arts Council of Wales has and operates effective systems for ensuring regularity and propriety in the spending of and accounting for the funds allocated to it.

2. The Arts Council of Wales has not coped well with a series of challenges, among them its own restructuring, standstill funding for both grant-in-aid expenditure and running costs, the effects of the Lottery on the rest of the organisation, local government reorganisation and the creation of the Assembly. It has mis-handled a number of high-profile decisions. It, and in particular its senior staff, has in large measure lost the confidence of those whom it serves in the arts community, and of its partners in the business of supporting the arts; and it has lost confidence in itself.

3. The Arts Council of Wales, in short, needs to "make it new". Council and senior management must plan a costed programme of change in the organisation's structure and ways of working, and carry that through in ways which demonstrate a commitment to a culture of openness and partnership.

4. Many of the following "recommendations", and of the other ideas put forward in the course of the report, are to be seen as suggestions for the Arts Council to take into account in work which it has already started, eg on structure and openness (none of them runs counter to the direction which that work is taking), alongside the recommendations in David Bonnar's report on Lottery distribution systems, its internal auditors' report on the handling of the franchising of Theatre for Young People, and whatever emerges from the Assembly's "Arts and Culture" review.


Recommendations
Re-structure the ACW with the following principles in mind:

Most grant decisions, both grant in aid and Lottery, to be taken under delegated powers in either one of three or four regional committees or a "National Grants Committee";
Council to concentrate on strategic issues;
Finance and Resources, and Management Committees (the latter to include within its remit planning, policy, public relations, but also management of the organisation) to provide central direction;
Committees and Council to be linked strongly through members in common;
Links with other major partners in support of the arts to be strengthened by co-option to principal committees.
Chairman to chair Audit Committee
ii. Senior management to be restructured to match Committees; delegations of authority, within clear remits, to staff at lower levels

iii. Centralise some finance functions as part of a strengthening of the authority of the centre in support of the Chief Executive

iv. Work to be better planned and managed, through

more sharply focused Corporate Plan, concentrating on the ACW's contribution to national goals for arts activity;
identification of smaller number of key tasks, to be pursued using project management techniques;
constant review of tasks and priorities;
engagement of Council, principally through Management Committee, in planning, prioritisation and management of work;
the work of Council and Committees to be so far as possible programmed in advance
v. The ACW to develop an "openness agenda", covering all aspects of the organisation's work, from Council business to internal staff relations, consultation, relations with partners, grant recipients, the Assembly and the Press and public

vi. The ACW to review its procedures for the assessment, monitoring and evaluation of activities seeking support, with the following principles in mind:

require the minimum information to enable decisions to be taken against a set of objective, published criteria; the assessment on which the decision is reached to be the basis of comprehensive feedback to applicant;
assess applicants' financial and management competence, with a view to relying as much as possible on good internal monitoring and supporting its development where that is needed; assessment and monitoring to be proportionate to the risk, taking account of the sums of money involved, the nature of the enterprise, and the competence of the recipient;
staff, Council and committee members all to be committed to viewing or reading the work of supported organisations and individuals and reporting on it; reports to be shared with those reported on;
all those involved in assessment to receive appropriate initial and refresher training;
3-year funding agreements, to be concluded with recipients of grant- in-aid revenue funding, to reflect funded bodies' differences and to include commitments by AOW; programme of annual reviews to be adhered to
vii. The ACW to review its "appeals" procedure, concentrating on offering both better initial feedback and then a rapid independent review of the decision-making process where irregularity is alleged

viii. The ACW to review its processes for developing policy and strategy against the model provided in the Cabinet Office report on Strategic Policy Making

ix. The Assembly to review the remuneration of the Chairman and members of the ACW, perhaps as part of a wider study of payment for service on an ASPS .

x. The Assembly to fund the costs of any restructuring

xi. The Assembly to bring the ACW (and other ASPBS) within the "Better Wales" programme of events and seminars

xii. The Assembly to appoint members to the remaining vacancies on the Council as a matter of urgency.

author:R A Wallace

original source: National Assembly for Wales
01 September 2000

 

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