Regional Arts Boards were formed in 1990 as a result of the Wilding Review. Richard Wilding had been the senior civil servant at the Office of Arts and Libraries and on retirement he was asked by his former Minister, Richard Luce, to undertake a review of the structure of regional arts support in England. Wilding’s report recommended replacing the twelve English Regional Arts Associations with 10 Regional Arts Boards. There were some significant implications in his recommendations. Regional Arts Associations were established from 1956 (the last being set up in 1974) and were a direct result of the Arts Council of Great Britain cutting its regional offices.
The first Regional Arts Association was established in South West England. It was in effect a partnership between local arts interests and English Local Government. Whilst there was some regional variation, the basic system was similar; Local Authorities paid an annual subscription and this gave them membership on the governing council of the Regional Arts Association. Smaller Executive Committees, including Local Government representation, undertook the overall management.
On-going antagonism between the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Regional Arts Associations (RAAs) had grown over the years. The latter had ambitions and desires, but relatively small budgets and were considerably reliant on annual Arts Council grants. RAAs sometimes also favoured local community initiatives over more prestigious national projects.
The Wilding review changed the nature and structure of regional arts delivery. It recommended the abolition of the twelve Regional Arts Associations and the establishment of ten Regional Arts Boards. These would be independent limited companies with some Local Authority representation on their management boards. But the democratic role and the link between subscription and governance was broken. Payment of a subscription did not guarantee you a seat or a vote.
The ten new Regional Arts Boards lasted until 2002, when following an unexpected announcement in 2001, Arts Council England (as it had become) absorbed them into a single new body, thus reverting to the policy of regional offices it had abandoned in the 1950s. The ten regions, which reputedly had been based on Second World War Bomber Command regions, were also reduced to nine, bringing them into line with Regional Development Agency areas.
Discord bedevils regional arts board; The healing has begun after a "meltdown" at a Central Minnesota nonprofit, a legislative audit report says.(NEWS)
Apr 29, 2002; Byline: Robert Franklin; Staff Writer It's not just artists who struggle - sometimes it's the agencies that try to help them. The...