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Peer Review results for DCMS museums are published

Peer Review results for DCMS museums are published

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (029/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 13 March 2009

The results of a pilot programme to introduce a new system of self-assessment and peer review for directly sponsored museums were published today by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The pilots were carried out at the National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum and Tyne & Wear Museums.

Welcoming the three reports, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said:

"Peer review is the right way to drive forward quality and excellence across museums and the wider cultural sector moving away from the concerns about targets and box ticking. The museums will learn much from the exercise and become stronger and more confident as a result. I am pleased to see the evidence of how strongly they are all performing and I look forward to developing this work across the cultural sector over the coming years."

Each museum was asked to detail its vision, its successes and its challenges. In each case the peer review was then conducted by a panel of three individuals, from both the UK and abroad and from a range of professional backgrounds. The peer reviews took place over three days and the panel reports include a critique of the self-assessment, an over-arching appraisal of the excellence across the museums functions and a set of recommendations for each museum to consider. Each museum was also asked to provide a management response to the peer review.

It takes forward a recommendation made by Sir Brian McMaster in his report Supporting Excellence in the Arts: From Measurement to Judgement, which called for a renewed focus on excellence in the cultural sector.

The Department is now evaluating the success of the pilot and is considering the roll out of the system, taking on board refinements from the pilot, to all sponsored museums with Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) status.

Notes for Editors
In July 2007 James Purnell, the then Secretary of State for Culture, asked Sir Brian McMaster, former Director of the Edinburgh International Festival, to undertake a review to report on:
* How the system of public sector support for the arts can encourage excellence, risk-taking and innovation
* How artistic excellence can encourage wider and deeper engagement with the arts by audiences
* How to establish a light touch and non-bureaucratic method to judge the quality of the arts in the future
The review involved artists, directors, curators, producers and administrators from across the country, and from across a wide variety of art forms. Sir Brian was supported by Nicola Thorold and staff from DCMS and Arts Council England.
A public consultation ran from 1 - 30 November 2007, the findings of which helped inform Sir Brian's thinking ahead of his final report to the Secretary of State.
The review was published in January 2008 and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been committed to overseeing implementation of the reports recommendations.

The review made 26 specific recommendations, of which two were:

"...that funding bodies, jointly with representatives of cultural organisations, develop good-practice guidelines for self-assessment. These should focus primarily on the excellence of the art and commitment to innovation and risk-taking." And

"...that, to complement the culture of self-assessment, funding bodies institute a system of peer review. I suggest all regularly funded organisations should be reviewed by peers on a cyclical basis and that the process is managed by the funding body."

These two recommendations have led to DCMS developing and piloting a framework for self-assessment and peer-review for its NDPB museums which it will manage directly.

Analogous to this pilot, Arts Council England have recently completed a consultation on self-assessment and peer review for its Regularly Funded Organisations.

The recent launch of the Arts Council England managed scheme for free theatre tickets for under 26's "A Night Less Ordinary" is also part of the wider McMaster implementation programme. Other recommendations made in the review are being taken forward by Arts Council England and the Museums, Libraries and Archive Council.

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