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Senior figures from arts and culture organisations have previously said that government-ordered review of Arts Council England requires sector input to be meaningful.

A young girl interacting with an artwork
ACE's Let's Create Strategy aims to support cultural activity that reaches more people in the country

A formal consultation with arts and culture organisations will be conducted as part of the ongoing review of Arts Council England, it has been confirmed.

A full scale review of the government quango launched on 15 March with the appointment of Dame Mary Archer as Lead Reviewer. 

Speaking at the time, Archer said she looked forward to "listening to a wide range of voices". However, figures in the sector expressed concerns that discussion would only extend to the "usual suspects" and, according to government guidance, there is no mandatory requirement for a consultation to take place.


But DCMS has confirmed to Arts Professional that a sector-wide exercise will take place. 

"As part of the government's Public Body Review into Arts Council England, the arts sector will be consulted on how well the organisation is performing its functions," a DCMS spokesperson said.

"As has been made clear before, this review is a standard process routinely carried out on all publicly-funded organisations."

The news coincides with the publication of an open letter to Archer signed by representatives from across the cultural sector.

The letter warns that there has been a "concerted effort by some in recent months to steer the public debate" around the review.

'Shouting the loudest'

It added that there appears to be an effort to "reframe the Public Body Review" as a review of ACE's Let’s Create strategy - which aims to support a more varied range of cultural activity that reaches more people in the country - in the hope of it being revised.

"We are concerned that those who shout the loudest and have the ears of the powerful are able to dominate at the expense of a range of voices and a reasonable consideration of the issues," the letter adds.

"We cannot allow a few voices to influence a swing back to an interpretation of excellence that narrows the opportunity for the ‘broad public’ to experience culture and creativity. 

"We should resist an attempt to create divisions, playing into the prejudices and unfounded fears of some commentators who seem to believe that ACE is ‘determined to shift public subsidy on to supporting amateurs and community projects’.

"We must aim to have a higher aspiration than simply trying to protect our own cherished corners of public subsidy and in the words of Let’s Create, ‘we want everyone to have more opportunities’ both ‘to be creative, and to experience high-quality culture’."

Details of the extent and the format of the consultation are yet to be released.