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Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says forthcoming review will help 'ensure that Arts Council England is driving creative excellence in the arts by funding ambitious projects of the highest quality'.

Mary Archer, a woman with mid-length dark hair wearing a dark grey suit jacket
Mary Archer says she will 'listen to a wide range of voices' during the review process

UK Government

Dame Mary Archer, the former Chair of the Science Museum Group will lead a government-ordered review of Arts Council England, it has been announced.

The review, part of the Cabinet Office’s Public Body Reviews programme, will be tasked with looking at the effectiveness of the organisation and its governance, as well as assessing whether alternative ways of delivering its functions could be appropriate.

Archer, who began her career as an academic specialising in solar energy, will be supported by an expert panel of 14 people from the arts and cultural sectors.


Archer said it would be a "privilege" to lead the review because "the work of Arts Council England is so important to us all". 

"It enriches our lives, enhances our individual wellbeing and maintains our national reputation for excellence across the arts and creative sectors.

“I look forward to working alongside my expert advisory panel, and listening to a wide range of voices, to help ACE to deliver its vital mission.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said the review will help ensure that Arts Council England is "driving creative excellence in the arts by funding ambitious projects of the highest quality".

“In theatre, music, painting, sculpture and many more artforms, the UK is a world leader, with creativity sitting at the core of our identity as a country," she added.

Panel Chair Dave Moutrey, Director and Chief Exectuive of HOME arts centre in Manchester until later this month when he steps down, said: “The opportunity to be part of this expert advisory panel to provide challenge and ensure rigour in the process is very interesting and, given the importance of Arts Council England to the sector, a responsibility not to be worn lightly.”

In an interview with Arts Professional published earlier this week Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said she has no intention of axing Arts Council England as part of the review.

Asked if the review could look into potential ways of changing the way that public funding is distributed to arts organisations, Frazer said: "The review will be more looking at structures in the round."

ACE Chief Executive Darren Henley has previously said he will be making a "robust case" for the public body highlighting the virtues of the body.

In a statement issued today Henley said: "The Public Bodies Review gives us a welcome opportunity to show how we're delivering our 10-year strategy, Let’s Create, by supporting artists, arts organisations, museums and libraries as they create ambitious, high quality work for audiences and communities in villages, towns and cities across England. 

"We’ve already begun preparing for the review with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and with Dame Mary Archer, and we look forward to engaging positively with the process, as we did during our last review in 2017."