Leeds Museums and Galleries, a Major Partner Museum

Review finds sector lacks confidence in ACE’s museum expertise

Patrick Steel, 24.04.2017
Serota’s appointment as ACE chair will help counter this
The Tailored Review of Arts Council England (ACE), published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport today, has found that “stakeholders were not confident that those at the top of the arts council had the sector experience and expertise necessary to fully understand museums”.

A survey of the museum sector found that less than half of respondents felt the arts council performed very or fairly well at supporting the development of the arts, compared with 64% of respondents from other sectors.

The review team found that stakeholders still viewed ACE as a primarily “arts-focused” organisation, with its development role for museums less defined that for the arts sector.

“Stakeholders to whom the review team spoke talked very positively about the arts council’s museums team, whom they saw as engaged, knowledgeable and committed,” the review notes.

“However, stakeholders noted concerns that beyond this dedicated team, awareness of museums and their specific issues was not widely ingrained in the culture of the arts council; issues such as managing collections, and property rather than producing art.

“The review team also heard concerns about a perceived lack of senior visibility on museums within the arts council.”

But, the review goes on to say, “the review team was confident that these perceptions about the wider integration and understanding of museums could successfully be addressed by the arts council; the appointment of Nicholas Serota as chair, given his background in museums (Serota was previously the director of Tate), is likely to help with this”.

The report recommends that ACE ensures museums are fully integrated in the organisation’s culture and strategic priorities, building on the steps it has already taken towards integrating funding.

John Orna-Ornstein, ACE's museums director, said: "Museums were brought into the arts council in 2011. Since then we have supported and developed the sector.

"As the review states, our stakeholders have been positive both about the move into the arts council, the work we do, and grants such as those made through the Museum Resilience Fund.

"In addition, from 2018 museums can join our National Portfolio, and the Grants for the Arts and Culture fund will be open to all accredited museums.”

ACE announced earlier this year it would scrap its £40m Major Partner Museum (MPM) scheme and instead allow museums to apply for National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding, which would now include the MPM budget, from 2018.

An announcement on successful NPO applications is expected at the end of June.

Currently ACE funds 21 MPMs, with separate funds for museum development and resilience available to the wider sector.

Links and downloads

Tailored Review of Arts Council England

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