In its monthly news letter on 3 July, the Arts Council of Ireland, An Chomhairle Ealaíon, announced the publication of the report of the independent review group, chaired by Terence O'Rourke, The report, named Inspiring Prospects (from Act One of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett), is available for download from the Arts Council website at http://www.artscouncil.ie/uploadedFiles/Inspiring-Prospects-Report-2014.pdf. The group was "tasked with examining how the Arts Council addresses its remit at a time of significant change so as to inform its strategic planning for the medium to long-term development of the arts in Ireland."
The report runs to 32 pages and will be examined in detail by the Arts Council over the coming months in order to develop its next strategy. There are many issues which, in my opinion, are controversial as well as challenging and occasionally contradictory - however, it is a document that should be essential reading for anyone with an interest in how this country develops one of its most dynamic industries.
I, personally have a big problem with section 7 of the report which is headed 'Quality' and advocates, what it refers to as 'the international norm' of peer assessment. I don't believe that this is a forward thinking policy - it simply serves as a mechanism that removes the Council from a vital part of the decision making process. It is also a policy that, in a country as small as Ireland, is prone to conflict (and mutualities) of interest. Peer assessment may be appropriate in decision making for scientific and academic publication but I do not believe that it is fit for purpose in the assessment of artistic quality.