Arts Council England is recruiting 150 people with knowledge and understanding of the arts to carry out assessments of the work of its regularly funded organisations.In The Guardian, Lyn Gardner is unconvinced about how well this system will work for theatre.
The assessors will report on the full range of artforms – music, literature, dance, visual art, theatre and combined arts – including specialisms such as work for children and young people, culturally specific arts and disability-led arts. They are expected to come from a diverse range of backgrounds and practice, and may include artists, arts managers, academics and critics.
Their reports will feed into the Arts Council’s ongoing artistic evaluation of regularly funded organisations, providing a broader evidence base to help inform its funding decisions. The new assessors will begin work in January 2010.
Andrew Nairne, Executive Director Arts Strategy for Arts Council England said:
“The new Artistic Assessors will enrich and broaden our views about the artistic excellence of the organisations we fund.
“We want to appoint people with knowledge and understanding of the arts, who will value the opportunity to see a wide range of work. We expect their assessments will benefit the organisations whose work they see and encourage more discussion about artistic quality.
“This is an important step forward in the Arts Council’s plan to work more closely with artists and arts organisations to ensure that audiences experience art of the highest quality.”
Assessors will be awarded a two-year contract for services. They will be asked to write between 10 and 14 reports a year and will be paid a flat fee of £1,000 a year plus expenses.
Assessors will be eligible to apply for a second two year contract, but must then stand down for a period of at least two years before they may apply again. This is to help ensure that there is a reasonable turnover of assessors and that work is assessed by a variety of qualified people.
The aim is to appoint 150 people this year and a further 150 in 2010, so that 300 assessors are ultimately available, with half of them being replaced or re-appointed each year.
The Arts Council’s proposal to introduce the new scheme of artistic assessments was the subject of major consultation exercise at the end of 2008. The proposal was broadly welcomed and, in spring 2009, the new system was piloted in the South East and North West and revised using feedback from the pilot assessors and organisations.
The new scheme will roll out across the country from January 2010.
Further information about the Artistic Assessment scheme and how to apply to become an assessor can be found at www.artscouncil.org.uk/assessment. The closing date for applications is 9 October.
Who will assess these theatre assessors? My concerns are that they will inevitably be a self-selecting group, that it will take time for their individual foibles and interests to emerge and so will be hard to judge the reliability of their reports.