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Best Value Review

Gloucestershire County Council

Gloucestershire County Council is currently reviewing its arts service as part of its Best Value programme of reviews. The review is looking at the County's public art programme alongside all its other arts activities, namely

  • development of County Arts Strategy
  • grant aid to County arts organisations to deliver the strategy
  • training, networking and advice to arts providers
  • supporting arts education

The Council's Best Value policy is that, wherever possible, service managers should review their own services. Consequently Arts Development Officer, Helen Owen is leading this review. For a single officer service, this inevitably creates huge strain. In recognition of this, the Council has agreed to some external consultancy support for aspects of the review. Benchmarking was one obvious candidate for externalisation. The other service activity which we felt would benefit from an external review was our public art programme. Not that this was an under-performing or 'problem' area. But as an early recipient of an Arts Council Lottery Capital Award for public art, we were required to monitor and evaluate projects rigorously. The way the case for an external specialist review was argued may be of interest to other officers grappling with Best Value reviews, and is quoted here.

The Council's public art programme is a discreet area of service with its own stakeholders, including artists commissioned and users of the buildings where commissions are sited. The corporate group responsible for the programme has argued persuasively that the programme, which started in 1997, requires review from an appropriate specialist. The programme is currently part funded from a National Lottery arts funding award of £100,000, only £44,000 of which has yet been claimed (the grant is payable proportionately, on evidence of receipted expenditure). The Lottery award was made in the expectation that the County Council would evaluate and provide feedback on the resulting programme, as a model of practice. A review of artists commissioned, quality of the resulting work and its impact, including equality and access issues, is therefore required. This will assist the Council in accessing the remainder of the Lottery award.


  • That an independent consultant with appropriate specialist knowledge be commissioned to review the County public art programme as part of the Best Value Review. Estimated cost: £1,000.

Recommendation agreed by Challenge Panel 14 July 2000.

Best Value Review Terms of Reference

Independent consultant Diana Hatton has now reviewed our public art activities, and her conclusions and suggested five year improvement plan will be fed into the final best value review report (due February 2001). Her review sprang no great surprises, and broadly confirmed the policy directions we are already seeking. But it was valuable to have an independent expert assessing our policy and procedures, and how we "come across". It was pleasing that she confirmed the quality and value for money of our Public Art programme.

For further information please contact:

Arts Development Officer
Tel:   (01452) 425079
Fax:   (01452) 425042
Email:  [email protected]

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