In a dramatic U-turn, the British Council has announced that it is to suspend its restructuring plans that would have led to the dissolution of its design and architecture department.
The decision means the orga nisation, often referred to as the cultural arm of the Foreign Office, will halt the disbanding of all of its specialist ‘artform’ departments – which include design, architec ture, visual arts, dance and drama – until it has completed a two month consultation period with ‘arts organisations, regional development agencies, cultural bodies and practitioners’.
The council’s anticipated shift towards a cultural economy programme – one of the key concerns from the design and arts community – with its increasing emphasis on ‘market intelligence and knowledge transfer’ is also under review. ‘We will be happy to explore shifts in emphasis throughout the consultation process, but all options are still on the table,’ says a spokesman.
The decision has been taken to ‘have an open discussion’ so that staff do not feel anxious about their jobs, says the spokesman. Jobs within the proposed single multidisciplinary department,
The Arts Innovation Team, that were advertised prior to the consultation are now subject to review.
A full consultation document for public perusal will be available ‘in due course’.