The findings will help inform the Arts Council’s relationship with artists and audiences, its investment priorities and decision-making. They will also enable the Arts Council and arts sector to work more collaboratively towards shared ambitions.
More than 2,500 people took part in the consultation, which ran from January to April 2010. Their responses were independently analysed providing the Arts Council with a balanced and in-depth picture of the sector’s ideas and opinions.
The consultation proposed a long term vision for the arts, including five goals which would enable that vision to be achieved. The goals ranged from ensuring talent and artistic excellence is thriving and celebrated, to building an arts sector that is sustainable, resilient and innovative.
An overwhelming majority of respondents agreed with the Arts Council’s understanding of the achievements, challenges and opportunities for the arts sector, its vision for the future and the goals suggested to achieve it.
Other key findings of the independent analysis of responses include:
• Most respondents believe that artists and arts organisations should look for new income streams and would welcome Arts Council’s support in identifying and securing them
• While the majority favoured a move to more flexible funding structures, many were also keen to stress that stable funding is needed if arts organisations are to continue taking the artistic risks, and innovating in the ways that have allowed the arts in this country to thrive
• There is broad agreement that we must ensure that the arts are accessible to a wide range of people and that they remain affordable. The majority of respondents believe that the Arts Council should promote and advocate for the arts, and encourage broadcasters to include more arts in their programming, in order to achieve this
• Most people agreed that it is important for the Arts Council to focus on children and young people – but that other specific groups, such as older people or those with disabilities, should not be overlooked
• There is a strong belief that arts organisations working in partnership is beneficial and creates the opportunity for mutual learning, artistic innovation and efficiency savings. Many respondents would like to see the Arts Council actively facilitating more such relationships.
Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “Only by working more collaboratively with arts organisations and others in the cultural sector, can the Arts Council achieve its mission of getting great art to everyone. That’s why it is so important that our partners help shape our vision for the arts.
“A very clear message emerges from this consultation, and that is for the Arts Council to be bolder and even more ambitious – but to be absolutely explicit about what success looks like and how we intend to achieve it.
“Now more than ever, as we face a tough public spending environment, we need to keep our eye on long term ambitions for the arts. We want talent to emerge and be sustained, and bigger audiences to enjoy more of the arts, no matter what the external circumstances are.
“Our funding decisions for 2011/12 and beyond will be made in the context of significant spending cuts, but also in the context of those long term ambitions. The 10-year framework that emerges from this consultation will enable us to be clear about our priorities, more flexible and responsive to the changing environment, and to make every penny of public money count.”
Arts Council England’s ten-year framework will be published in the autumn.