Worcestershire Arts Partnership Blog

Friday, 14 November 2014

Cultural commissioning

Cultural Commissioning Programme


The Cultural Commissioning Programme is a three year Arts Council England funded programme which runs to June 2016. It will deliver a range of workstreams to:

·         help the arts and cultural sector develop skills and capacity to engage in cultural commissioning

·         enable commissioners to develop awareness and know-how of commissioning arts and cultural organisations to deliver public service outcomes

·         encourage relationships between cultural providers and commissioners

·         influence policy makers and raise the profile of this area of work


There are a series of workshops taking place across the country. These run over a four day period. The first two days are an introduction to cultural commissioning (which I attended)  and a further two days looks to create wider understanding of how you  can create greater understanding of how you show impact on public service outcomes.  I plan to go to this next year.

The first two days took place at the new Library in Birmingham and gave an excellent overview of this other world. The other delegates were a mixture of arts organisation,  library services and cultural officers.

At the event we went through the commissioning cycle: key area is that procurement is not commissioning (its part of it)


We also were told about The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.  Local authorities and local health services are required to undertake Joint Strategic Needs Assessments of health and well-being. This work is a continuous process of assessment designed to inform decisions made locally about what services are commissioned. The core aim is to improve the public's health and reduce inequalities.

 http://www.worcestershire.gov.uk/downloads/20122/joint_strategic_needs_assessment this is Worcestershire’s as well as a wide range of other downloads which are useful to see where priorities lie. The key to understanding this is that the priority will always be to reduce health inequality.

We then discussed whether this would lead to more money for the arts.  The broad areas were:

·         Possibly and probably but the arts organisations have to be ready

·         Many variations, developments and opportunities to it

·         About relationships rather than transactions

·         About better outcomes

·         About seeing it from a commissioning perspective

·         About strategic conversations, profile and positioning

There was then a discussion as to whether this would lead to lesser art and the answer is no – the commissioner is looking for outcomes and not necessarily how you get there.

We then moved to a more health focus and the main drivers of mental health and well being, older people and places based commissioning. The drivers are:

·         Reforms in health and social care

·         Inequality

·         Demographics and lifestyle changes

·         Less  public money

·         Transformation in public services

There was then a look at the health and social care act 2012 the outcomes are:

·         Outcome focus

·         Abolition of PCT and Strategic Health Authorities

·         GP’s having health commissioning role through Clinical Commissioning Groups

·         Creation of Healthwatch

·         Changes for Local Government transfer of Public Health, Health and Well Being Boards and strategies

·         More competition between providers

Before we went to the Care Act of 2014. This looked at:


·         Promoting individual well being

·         Preventing need for care

·         Reducing needs that already exist

·         Person centred decision making

·         Importance for carers

·         Personalised plans

·         Using totality of local resources

We then looked at The Marmot review

There was then a chance to meet a commissioner, these were described as:

·         Commissioners, directors and service managers, clinical commissioning groups

·         Schools and locality based services

·         Individuals with personal budgets

·         Support functions

·         Governance functions

And these are the outcomes:

·         Primary intervention

·         Secondary intervention

·         Keeping people independent

·         Personalisation through choice and control

·         Reducing health inequalities

·         Wellbeing – social networks and capital volunteering

·         Addressing soclal determinants of health

·         Educational attainment

·         Raising aspirations self esteem and confidence

·         Narrowing the gap

·         Think Family

·         Improved physical and mental health

·         Economic prosperity

·         Local identity and sense of pride

·         Safe and resilient communities

·         Social inclusion

And in business terms

·         Evidence of impact on outcomes

·         Value for money

·         Reduced dependency on other services

·         Safeguarding

·         Innovation

·         Community engagement

In day two we had a practical example of bidding for funding.

There was a session on full cost recovery and showing the benefit of arts and culture.

Overall the key lessons I learnt were:

·         That commissioning comes in all shapes and sizes

·         That its all about outcomes

·         That you need to develop time to make it work

·         That its not a replacement for core funding

·         That its not for everyone

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