Cultural Olympiad funding – internal review finds Arts Council “innocent”

Arts Council England has found no evidence of malpractice in the way it funded “artist-led” projects in Yorkshire, following an investigation by Help Me Investigate user Carol Lee.

Following an internal review which interviewed only six people, Arts Professional’s Liz Hill suggests that the body is attempting to “reinvent history”:

“Suggesting that the title of the programme ‘Artists Taking the Lead’ was referring to the project selection process, and that the naïve artists who thought they were in with a chance of turning their artistic dreams into reality were ‘mistaken’ about the nature of the funding scheme, is insulting in the extreme.”

Arts Professional reports on the review:

“The report is based on published documents, together with six interviews by Efunshile, five of them with Yorkshire ATTL panel members and one a former member of Leeds City Council. Whilst acknowledging that the expression of interest for the programme was drafted jointly by the Artistic Director of Yorkshire Dance and the City Council’s Head of Arts and Events on behalf of the Leeds Canvas consortium group, Efunshile says: “I do not agree that this is evidence that the bid was not artist-led or that the bid was in fact Leeds City Council led.” She admits that the “guidance was clear that ‘Ideas cannot be accepted from organisations which are not led by artists such as local authorities or higher education institutions…’””

Conflicts of interest revealed over Cultural Olympiad funding in Yorkshire

Help Me Investigate user Carol Lee has been investigating the way that Cultural Olympiad funding was allocated in Yorkshire, with the results published this week in Arts Professional.

Despite being named ‘Artists taking the lead’, and Arts Council England guidelines stating that projects “had to be artist-led and that local authorities and higher education institutions were ineligible”, the report details “Blatant breaches of funding rules, panel members with vested interests and disproportionate interaction between Arts Council England (ACE).”

“[T]he winning Yorkshire bid was led by Leeds Canvas, a consortium of the city’s major arts providers that included Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery and Studio Theatre, Leeds City Council, and Council-owned Leeds Art Gallery, as well as Opera North, Northern Ballet Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Yorkshire Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Situation Leeds.

“Whereas the other projects shortlisted were proposed by the artists who would lead them, the initial Leeds Canvas proposal was put forward by Yorkshire Dance Chief Executive Wieke Eringa and included neither the names of the artists who would deliver their project nor the details of the artistic concept. Despite this, the bid was one of only five shortlisted to go through to the second stage of ACE’s selection process.”

You can read more about what Carol uncovered at Arts Professional.