II. PROVISION OF INFORMATION
- NESTA has produced three Annual Reports and a three year Strategy Plan for 2000 - 2003. All are available on NESTA's website. We looked to these for information about NESTA and its activities. The Annual Report 1998-1999 is brief, as is reasonable for such a young organisation, and contains information about its plans for future work and targets for its administration and award schemes. Journeys, the Annual Report for 1999-2000, and Take the Plunge, the Annual Report for 2000-2001, might be expected to contain more factual information. Both have chapters dedicated to describing current projects and award recipients. Neither have detailed information about costs or programme objectives. Journeys, for example, includes two 'think' pieces, "Patronage - creative space or creative shackles" and "Are UK investors brave enough?" which although relevant in subject to the work of NESTA are of no value in describing or assessing what NESTA has achieved in the past financial year. "Patronage," for example, tells us -
"Design and the emotional and aesthetic responses that it provokes, together with a whole set of hard-to-define qualities known as "symbolic values" are what give products, and the economies that produce them, their competitive edge".
The section containing the summary financial statement however warns the reader "This summarised statement does not contain sufficient information to allow as full an understanding of the results and state of affairs of NESTA as would be provided by the full Annual Accounts". It explains that the full Accounts can be provided on written request from NESTA.
- Take the Plunge is divided into three parts: "Talking the talk", "Walking the walk" and "Putting our money where our mouth is". "Talking the talk" is comprised mostly of a "conversation" between Lord Puttnam, Chair of NESTA and Jeremy Newton, Chief Executive, with an outline of NESTA's future plans. "Walking the walk" contains short descriptions of various projects and "Putting our money where our mouth is", the shortest section by far, contains outline financial statements and targets for the coming year in the form of a Business Plan.
- NESTA's Annual Reports are a break from the norm. While it is refreshing to see a creative approach in these documents, the cost of these publications and the need to convey essential information to the reader make it important that they be clear and concise in style. An Annual Report which contains essays but lacks full financial statements is of no assistance to those attempting to evaluate the work of a publicly funded organisation. Annual Reports should not read like the production notes in a theatre programme. Creativity should not be at the expense of clarity. We recommend that NESTA in future provide Annual Reports which contain clear and full information on expenditure, including awards made; the targets; and expenditure plans.
- NESTA's website has information about its programmes and how to apply for grants. It also has an archive of press releases and brief background information. Those interested in NESTA's work are able to find information about its programmes and advice on making an application. Information about how NESTA makes its awards and the financing behind them is harder to find. We would like to see NESTA making greater use of its website in order to enhance its accountability to the public in a transparent manner. For example, full accounts should be made available online, to accompany the Annual Reports. We urge NESTA to make greater use of its website in conveying important information to those seeking to evaluate its work.
5 Journeys, NESTA's Annual Report 1998-1999, Patronage - creative space or creative shackles Back
6 Journeys, NESTA's Annual Report 1998-1999, Summary Financial Statement Back