ACE Oversight

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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Following Arts Council England's (ACE) refusal to supply information requested under the Freedom of Information Act, the information concerned evaluation reports of National Dance Agencies in England, Article19 had a rather curious back and forth with the funding giant concerning a specific paragraph in the letter of response.

The paragraph states;

"There is a public interest in maintaining good relations with our funded organisations, so that they feel confident to provide us with the governance and financial information that we need to ensure that our funding is properly applied. There is a public interest in ensuring that funded organisations do not censor the information they give to us."

When asked if ACE can compel funded organisations to provide operational information on request, for evaluation purposes, they seemed reluctant to answer the question directly. It was put to ACE that if they cannot compel or contractually require funded organisation to fully disclose information for evaluation and monitoring what oversight capability could they possibly have?

A spokesperson for ACE responded;

"The Arts Council monitors its regularly funded organisations on an ongoing basis and this monitoring and reporting process includes the provision and scrutiny of finance and governance information. Grants for the arts applications must meet strict criteria including management ability and financial viability before a grant is awarded. We consider our processes to be robust and not open to misuse."

It was also put to ACE that if their clients were contractually obligated to provide full disclosure during assessment then the one of the basic principles of their refusal to honour the request for information was false and a mis-representation of the facts;

"There is no question that the Arts Council has [lied or misrepresented the facts to a journalist]", a spokesperson told Article19 in a written response.

ACE also believes that the public would fully support its' decision to withhold assessment information and that they [the public] have little or no interest in the minute details of Arts Council England funding and how that money is used.

Within the letter denying our request ACE also mentioned the up and coming funding review that will take place this year. Funding levels for the organisation will be know later in the year and it is expected that ACE's core funding from the Government will be cut;

"Furthermore, no decisions about funding beyond 31 March 2008 have yet been taken and they will not be made until after we receive notification of our final settlement from government, which we expect in the autumn. Release of yearly assessments at this stage would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of views due to take place once the settlement is announced. "

Article19 is appealing the decision to withhold the information.

[ Full Text of ACE Letter (PDF) ]

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