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Arts Council England says platform developers PwC will not be allowed to benefit commercially from data provided to it, as it publishes new guidance for organisations making up its 2023-26 portfolio.


Birute via iStock

Arts Council England (ACE) has provided reassurance to arts and culture organisations that global consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will not be able to benefit commercially from information provided to a new data platform for the sector that will be up and running in May. 

Called Illuminate, the platform will store data submitted by organisations included in ACE’s National Portfolio from April, generated from audience surveys and organisational activities, as well as box office and ticket sales.

Illuminate has been developed by PwC and will replace ACE’s existing audience data platform – The Audience Agency’s Audience Finder – after the global consultancy firm was awarded the contract following an open procurement process in a move deemed controversial to many in the sector.


Following concerns that PwC may be able to use submitted data for commercial purposes, updated guidance published by ACE has offered reassurance there will be limitations to how the firm can interact with submitted data.

ACE has said that PwC will be acting as data processors only. It will be unable to use the data collected for any purpose other than requirements stipulated by the funder.

PwC will also be unable to commercially exploit the data, ACE adds, and will not retain any of the data after the end of the contract period.

Guidance for funded organisations

Both National Portfolio Organisations and Investment Principles Support Organisations that are part of ACE’s 2023-26 portfolio will be required to submit data to Illuminate on a regular basis.

Organisations will be expected to capture data from the start of the NPO period in April and will be able to upload it to the platform once it launches in May.

Data submissions will include audience survey data, collected through a representative sample of the organisation’s audience. 

There will be a set of mandatory questions, which ACE says it will share later this month. Organisations will be encouraged to add questions that suit their individual development needs.

Other data submissions will include box office or ticketing data where appropriate, and activity information, such as logging performances and exhibitions, which will be a requirement for all NPOs.

Some organisations will be exempt from submitting some forms of data. Exemptions will be available for organisations that are solely publishers, touring organisations or artist/talent development organisations, or solely providing a service as a business-to-business operation.

Organisations that solely work with vulnerable groups, such as prisoners, and those whose audience is under 16, will also not be required to submit certain elements of data.

Focus on functionality

ACE says Illuminate is being designed to be as user-friendly and intuitive as possible “so anyone should be able to easily use it”.

Organisations will be able to view all their data together and compare it against regional and sector benchmarks.

Illuminate will be free to access and be split across three modules – one to build surveys, one to upload and ingest data and one to analyse data - as well as featuring a training area.

The platform will also include an audience segmentation tool, which is currently in development by PwC.

PwC plans to host a ‘discovery session’ on the platform on 23 March, which will be recorded and made available afterwards.