Majority of stakeholders find the council’s work effective, relevant and fair, but some areas for improvement are identified in recent survey.
National Assembly for Wales (CC BY 2.0)
Nine out of ten clients and stakeholders are positive about their relationship with the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) and around eight in ten rate its work as effective and relevant, according to its recent Client and Stakeholder Customer Survey 2014. However respondents do identify some issues, including a failure to support arts in education and a lack of clarity around funding decisions, which ACW is pledging to resolve.
Clients and stakeholders rate ACW most effective at raising the profile of the arts in Wales, providing advice and expertise, widening participation support, and developing the arts in local communities. It is seen as least effective at influencing planners and decision makers, supporting entrepreneurship and income generation, and supporting arts in education – for all of which 15% say it is not very, or not at all, effective. In response, Chief Executive Nick Capaldi said that ACW will soon publish “a range of research and advocacy material – facts about the value of the arts – that will help sharpen our campaigning activities”. ACW is also “working closely with the Welsh Government on the implementation of the recommendations in its Arts and Education Review”. And new partnerships have been established with BBC Cymru Wales, S4C, NESTA, Cadw and Welsh Water to help support entrepreneurship in the arts.
This is the first survey since the restructure in May 2012, which saw staff numbers reduced. Face to face contact has reduced for 13% of respondents and 9% say the ability to deal with enquiries and requests deteriorated, but many more have seen an improvement. ACW is pledging to make it easier to contact the correct member of staff with an enquiry, to develop a Stakeholder Engagement plan, “to ensure that we’re providing the relevant information to the right people”, and to “enhance the range and quality of advice and information” offered through its Information Service.
Four in five consider the application assessment process fair. This is highest amongst Local Authorities (90%), however a quarter of individual artists and practitioners report that the process is either unfair, or that they don’t know. This coincides with a quarter of artists and practitioners who say that they did not receive any feedback on a funding application. Overall 60% of applicants find ACW’s feedback useful. Capaldi told AP: “We will provide fuller feedback to applicants… We will set out the context for the funding decisions (ie: the volume of applications considered and the availability of funds) and a fuller explanation of the specific reasons why that application was unsuccessful. We will also offer personal feedback on applications, and the opportunity to attend a face to face funding surgery.” ACW will also improve guidance information for applicants, because it finds a frequent reason for an application failing is that “applicants have struggled to understand the initial information”.
ACW will publish a new, “slimmer” arts strategy, along with simplified funding guidelines, an updated version of its Communications Strategy and a Stakeholder Engagement plan over the next six months.