England's new arts council coming to life

04 March 2002, United Kingdom

The drawn-out merger of the Arts Council of England (ACE) with the country’s ten Regional Arts Boards (RABs), has reached a new stage, with nominations being called for National Council Members. Fourteen members are to be appointed to the new council, nine of whom will also serve as chairs of regional councils located across England. According to advertising for the positions, councillors are expected to ‘have the ability to command respect within their arts constituency, and be able to think imaginatively and strategically.’ It is estimated that the new arts funding organisation will be responsible for distributing more than GB£500 million of public money and Lottery grants by 2003/4. Although all RABs have now agreed to transfer their assets and staff to new entity on 31 March, it appears that little will change on a day-to-day basis – at least in the short term – with staff positions being secure for at least one year and no immediate identity changes. Sally Luton, CEO of West Midland Arts commented in a recent newsletter: ‘This change process has been with us for what seems a long time now, and some people may expect to see an entirely different organisation on 1 April. However, in reality this will not be the case, for example, we will continue to be called West Midland Arts until the new national identity has been agreed. There will of course be changes, which will take place in a properly managed way over coming months. The new organisation will be built on good practice, learning from both inside and outside the funding system.’ Appointments of the new National Council Members are expected to be announced by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport in May. Further information on the search for board members and the merger process is available online at: www.arts.org.uk/index.asp