Memorandum submitted by Hartlepool Borough
WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE ARTS ARTS
COUNCIL RESTRUCTURE PROPOSALS
I write to submit the response of this authority
to the Arts Council's Proposals for restructuring and help inform
the Select Committee's awareness in advance of the forthcoming
This document is a more meaningful publication
that the original Prospectus for Change and actually goes
some way to meet the concerns raised by many agencies, but particularly
the Local Authorities who were largely overlooked in their pivotal
role in delivering arts activity, particularly at local and regional
Furthermore, there is a recognition of the need
to have a strong regional structure with regionally nominated
Chairs with a place on the National Council. The acknowledgement
that arts organisations grants, Lottery funding decisions and
staffing appointments be determined locally gives a clearer statement
of intent that the organisation will aim to deliver greater devolution,
with the regions being more central to future decision making
and actually helping to change the culture of the existing establishment
into that of a new organisation.
An organisation with a strong regional composition
will need to acknowledge that continuing "regional differences"
can be given the opportunity to thrive without the imposition
of a national policy or direction in every area of the new body's
On this basis, further clarification, safeguards
and assurances will need to be given, namely:-
1. The ability to allocate funding according
to regional policies, ie policy autonomy.
2. The removal of a National right of
veto to regional initiatives, good practice will spread nationally,
poor and ill judged ones will ultimately attract criticism and
local pressure will effect change when assessed against better
practice elsewhere. This is an opportunity for evolving good practice
and the stimulation of initiatives.
3. Further devolution of an increased
percentage of Lottery funding to regional responsibility.
4. Ability to retain specialist art
form expertise at regional level, not a blanket coverage, but
a system which will reflect regional strengths and interests.
5. How the projected savings of £8-10
million can be made?, no real evidence to date of where specifically
this can be achieved. Not a great deal of point in being specific
if the source of such savings cannot be explained.
6. The inference for continuing involvement
and input of Local Authorities requires clarification. Local Authority
funding and support for arts delivery was clearly overlooked in
the Prospectus for Change, yet their support, most certainly
in the Northern Arts region is beyond doubt and in some instances
almost beyond reproach, with an enlightened approach to the importance
of the arts, in all forms, to the improvement to residents quality
7. In seeking a Royal Charter, this
needs to ensure and provide safeguards for the position of having
regional Chairs on the National Council and that the principle
of devolution is similarly enshrined.
8. It is most important that existing
opportunities for match grant funding can still be received by
the new body with regional offices. In the Northern Arts region
such funding has provided the impetus and often the catalyst for
both the regions art "icons" and locally delivered services
alike. This must not be jeopardised.
From a Hartlepool Borough Council perspective,
Northern Arts, the Regional Arts Board has a strong image, profile
and record of collaboration and project support, any change naturally
brings an element of concern, however, it would be tragic if the
current body was weakened in its ability to act as a strong advocate
for the arts network of the region.
This response as part of the consultation process
simply reflects Northern Arts current standing and reputation.
I trust these comments are given full consideration
as part of the Select Committee's considerations of the Arts Council's
proposal to ensure that whatever future implementation model is
agreed the strength of existing regional organisations and the
contribution of local authorities are given due consideration.
17 January 2002