Saturday, October 16, 2010
UK Design Council Review
On Thursday 14th October the report of the Design Council Review in the UK was made public. This is the first review since 1994.
The Design Council is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with co-sponsorship from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
It is worth noting that this review (launched last July) sits within a much larger overall review of such bodies in the UK public sector landscape. The press this week have been referring to the bonfire of quangoes, (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations), with 192 organisations losing NDPB status and 118 organisations being merged into 57. A further 171 are being retained but substantially reformed and 40 are still under review. The full list is at the Cabinet Office's Public Bodies Reform listing.
Thankfully, the main conclusion of the review is that there is, "a compelling case for the Design Council to continue", and for it to, "champion design at the heart of national priorities". However, not in its current form.
The Report authored by Martin Temple and the Review Team contains a set of recommendations to Ministers to change the Design Council from its current status as a Non Governmental Departmental Body to a charity independent of government, whilst at the same time maintaining its Royal Charter, and with reduced funding from government (to be reduced from £5.4m to £4m).
It is anticipated that the Design Council will move out of its current premises to a shared space with NESTA where economies of scale on back office functions etc can be achieved. Other partners are the Design Museum (with a move to its new space indicated by 2014) and the Technology Strategy Board.
On first read, the most significant departure seems to me to be that the Design Council will set up a commercial arm, (a 'trading subsidiary'), through which to provide a 'defined range of intermediary services to industry, the public sector and to governments' - note the plural on governments. The services provided will include coaching top teams, public commissioning and open innovation projects (eg in healthcare and crime prevention). This will build upon its existing roster of Design Associates (working with companies on design projects and design management) and specialist project managers.
The report (Appendix F) in its operational plan specifically states that any profits will be covenanted back to the charity to support charitable aims and that explicit terms of reference will be created with the design industry and design organisations to avoid any potential or perceived conflict of interest.
The Design Council's future roles are indicated as four pillars under a new model of activity. These are listed as: Government Advisor (policy development), Demonstration (market making), Knowledge Networks (capacity building) and Broker(connections to design).