Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Further supplementary memorandum submitted by The Arts Council of England


  Following our recent meetings I am writing to summarise the current position of the ACE/RABs merger and the programme for the next few weeks.


  All ten RABs have now met to discuss the Transfer Proposal which was issued in January (RABs having considered a draft version of the proposal at their December meeting). You have a copy of this document which addresses the issues raised by Boards following circulation of Working Together for the Arts. The main areas for further clarification were governance issues (including issues of delegation and regional autonomy), boundary change matters (following the proposal to align RAB areas with Government Office boundaries) and staffing considerations. The Transfer Proposal also contains a detailed Project Plan outlining the practical tasks in place to deliver the transfer. All ten Boards have now agreed "in principle" to transfer and to inform their staff of their intention. We expect all Boards to confirm their agreement at their March meetings. The Arts Council is currently preparing the Transfer Agreement documents including the full schedules of assets and liabilities for each RAB in preparation for the March round of meetings. In addition we will be preparing an additional annex to the Transfer Proposal with updates of ongoing work.


  Following the "in principle" agreements we have now initiated a process to build the new organisation. We have always believed that it would be inappropriate for the Arts Council's current management to develop the detailed vision, business plan and staffing structure for the organisation. One of the main drivers for change has been the need to bring two, sometimes opposing, traditions together in the interests of creating one unified arts funding and development body with regional voices at the heart of decision making. It is important that the new Council and new Executive Board should take this process forward. To this end we are working with the DCMS to recruit new Council members by open application (advertisements have now been placed) following the process outlined in the Transfer Proposal (Annex 6). From today (11 February), members of the new Executive Board will meet to take part in change training and future planning (further full day sessions will take place on 19 and 25 February) in order to ensure that we are ready with a new management process by 2 April.


  In terms of boundary changes and achieving co-terminosity with Government offices I can confirm that Northern and North West Arts have agreed a process for transferring clients in Cumbria, and that North West Arts and East Midlands Arts have also agreed to proceed jointly to make the changes in respect of the High Peak areas. These changes are planned for April 2002. Southern Arts and South West Arts will be making the relevant changes by the end of March 2003. The most challenging work will take place in the Southern/South East area where we will be creating a new South East regional office. We have agreed a process with both of the affected RABs, which will enable us to put the new Regional Executive Director in place within the next few weeks.


  We are currently in the process of agreeing a process of evaluation for the merger process. This evaluation will be set up shortly to monitor progress against aims and will consider the cultural and policy aims as well as our ability to deliver funding currently being spent on administration back to the arts. I would be happy to provide updates as the evaluation process proceeds.

11 February 2001

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