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McMaster Review: Supporting excellence in the arts – from measurement to judgement

In July 2007 James Purnell, the 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.

Whilst the final report landed a bit oddly, published the same week as many Arts Council England funded organisations found out about cuts to their funding agreements, I agree that “culture could grow… if the cultural sector is truly relevant to 21st century Britain and its audiences”, and support the notion that “cultural organisations need to explore ways of communicating more effectively with their audience. Digital technology offers extraordinary opportunities to do this”.

The full report is available for download here. Supporting Excellence in the Arts