ACE to employ 150 ‘artistic assessors’ to report on its organisations

Lalayn Baluch

Arts Council England is looking to recruit 150 arts practitioners, critics, managers and academics to carry out assessments on the work of its regularly funded organisations, which will be used to inform the body’s funding decisions.

The ‘artistic assessors’ will be appointed to report on a range of art forms including theatre, dance, music, literature, visual and combined arts, as well as specialisms such as work for children and young people, culturally specific and disability-led arts.

During their two-year contract, they will be expected to write between ten and 14 reports each year. The reports will be used to feed into ACE’s ongoing evaluation of the organisations in its portfolio and will help provide evidence on which funding decisions will be based.

Assessors will be eligible to apply for a second two-year contract, but then must stand down for at least two years before they apply again.

Barbara Matthews, ACE director of theatre strategy, told The Stage: “What we are looking for is people who have a knowledge and understanding of the art forms that they will be assessing, and then who are able to express what they feel about what they are seeing in a way that is constructive and likely to prompt discussion.

“They will be looking at the work that the regularly funded organisations create. They will be attending performances, reading poems, visiting exhibitions or viewing a piece of art that is there for public consumption – just like a critic does.”

Peer assessment was one of the key recommendations put forward by arts chief Brian McMaster in his landmark government-commissioned report, published in January 2008, on excellence in the arts.

ACE launched a major consultation exercise on the possibility of introducing peer assessment at the end of 2008. The scheme was piloted in the south-east and north-west of England in the spring, and revised using feedback from the assessors and organisations involved in the pilot.

ACE executive director for arts strategy Andrew Nairne added: “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.”

The new scheme will roll out across the country from January 2010. For more information see

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