Voluntary Arts Network endorses self-evaluation for arts groups

A less target-driven approach to arts funding would encourage a greater appreciation of the voluntary arts sector, according to the Voluntary Arts Network.

Responding to a recommendation in the recent McMaster review of arts that funding should be less target-driven, Robin Simpson, chief executive of the network, said that more peer review and self-evaluation could be useful for the voluntary arts sector.

"It's a move back to the arts for arts' sake way of looking at things," he said. "Though amateur arts might not be technically excellent, it is about quality of experience. It's better to have judgement by peers - other amateur groups and the community - than bureaucrats."

The McMaster review - commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - said that funding bodies judging the quality of the arts should move to a new system based on self-assessment and peer review that focused on "objective judgements about excellence, innovation and risk-taking".

Simpson said that building evaluation mechanisms at a local level would lead to a greater appreciation of what amateur arts groups do. But he added that he was disappointed that the McMaster review did not examine the whole voluntary arts sector and instead focused on organisations funded by the Arts Council.

Other recommendations in the McMaster review included ensuring cultural organisations embraced "continuing professional development of their staff", and allowing free admission to all publicly funded cultural organisations for one week.

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