Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Third Report


(a)The RSC Feasibility Study takes pains to point out the high degree of risk involved in estimating costs for a complex project of this kind. We agree and are concerned as to whether the overall vision will be feasible within the available budget. The RSC should clarify its proposals and provide greater detail to demonstrate the financial viability of the project. We recognise that there are time constraints and that delays to the initiation of the project could add to its cost. However, this does not mitigate the need for detailed costings (paragraph 31).
(b)The Committee supports the case for capital funds from Lottery money being allocated to developing the RSC in Stratford as a national and international resource for the arts and a great attraction for visitors to the UK. The RSC has set out the problems with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and has made a case for its demolition, convincingly, however the Company has not yet completed the necessary studies nor set out detailed and specific plans for remedy. We believe that the RSC, as arguably the most important performing arts institution in the country, deserves and requires the optimum building and facilities for its indispensable activities. The devil, however, will be in the details and no final judgement is possible until these details are available (paragraph 37).
The South Bank Centre
(c)The Committee supports the case for public money being allocated to redeveloping the South Bank as a cultural centre for London. We are delighted that Lambeth Council has given the necessary consents to enable the South Bank to move forward with restoration of the Royal Festival Hall enabling the first signs of improvement to begin to emerge (paragraph 57).
(d)It is essential that at very long last decisive action must be taken to prevent this saga of failed plans and masterplans on the South Bank limping on any further. It is unacceptable that artistic events of the highest quality, equalling or exceeding all international counterparts, should be condemned to take place in such a squalid, seedy and menacing environment (paragraph 58).
The Arts Council
(e)We recommend that the Arts Council should, when preparing for any future consultation, consider the evidence submitted to the Committee from arts organisations and individuals on the process of consultations in this case (paragraph 72).
(f)We recommend that the Arts Council continue to engage in constructive dialogue with local authorities to ensure that established links and working relationships are improved rather than disrupted. The funding and subscriptions system should be made transparent and accountable to local communities to ensure value for money. The new structure of the Arts Council must include clear guidelines for the devolution of funding and decision-making to enable Regional Arts Councils confidently to create strategies and activities relevant to their local communities. The Arts Council should consider the evidence to us from umbrella and touring organisations when confirming their position in the new regional structure (paragraph 76).
(g)We recommend that the Arts Council include the benefits of their new funding systems in the audit of the reorganisation, taking into account both customer satisfaction and the efficiency of those implementing the funding system (paragraph 78).
(h)We recommend that the Arts Council produce a clear and comprehensive process to indicate how they will achieve the £8 million-£10 million target on savings. This should avoid undue pressures on the quality of the service provided by its regional councils further down the line, when the process is subject to audit. We recommend that the estimated savings should be an important but not the determining factor in judging the restructuring a success. Such savings should be additional to providing real devolution to the regional councils, whilst improving the quality of service to the arts, simplifying the funding process and reducing bureaucracy (paragraph 81).
(i)We recommend that the Arts Council develop and publish indicators of performance with regard to the devolution of resources and decision-making; the attainment of cultural and policy aims; the reduction of bureaucracy and duplication; and the savings of funding previously spent on administration, so that its claims can be assessed in practice (paragraph 82).

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