Opportunities for alignment: Arts and cultural organisations and public sector commissioning

Arts and cultural organisations—charities, social enterprises, for-profit organisations, museums and libraries—play a valuable role in addressing social challenges and delivering public services.

This research—which included a literature review, an online survey for arts and cultural organisations and interviews with a range of organisations and commissioners—maps the arts and cultural sector’s experiences of public sector commissioning to date, examines the public service commissioning landscape and highlights opportunities for relationships between the sector and commissioners to be strengthened in the future.

Local commissioners and arts & cultural organisations can work more closely together, but it’s time to be bold.

The focus of the report is wider than how arts and cultural organisations can secure contracts and funding, considering also the role that arts and cultural activities can play in the design of effective public services. By examining both provider and commissioner perspectives, this research identifies areas where the interests of arts and cultural organisations match those of commissioners. It contains messages not only for arts and cultural organisations and commissioners, but also for organisations which can influence the way commissioning works such as ministers and civil servants, elected local officials and Arts Council England.

These findings will inform the further strands of the Cultural Commissioning Programme’s work, including advice, networking activities, training events and the collation of case studies. Delivery of the Cultural Commissioning Programme is led by NCVO, working in partnership with NPC (New Philanthropy Capital) and NEF (New Economics Foundation), with contribution from Mission Models Money (MMM) in the programme set-up and research. The work of the programme is steered by an advisory group, chaired by Lord Bichard.

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