Improving strategic commissioning in the culture, tourism and sport sector

Understanding commissioning

The sharper focus on outcomes is leading to the reorientation of public services around a 'commissioning model‘. In some services, such as adult social care and health, a commissioning model has been in place for many years. Its arrival in children's services, learning and skills, offender management and other public services is more recent. In the new financial and political landscape, commissioning is one of the few processes to survive although the nature of commissioning will be different going forward.

We have recently updated our guidance document for people in the culture and sport sector. It aims to help them understand the process of strategic commissioning in public services and how to engage in it to produce better outcomes for communities.

The document is designed to help those working in the sector:

  • influence and engage in strategic commissioning corporately and within the local strategic partnership (LSP) where culture and sport has a significant contribution to make
  • commission culture and sport services to deliver these outcomes at the operational level.

It aims to provide culture and sport organisations with greater understanding of strategic commissioning, the opportunities and challenges, and some tools to operate more effectively in the context of modern public service delivery.

We have also developed a series of guidance documents to supplement the guide.

Understanding commissioning: a practical guide for the culture and sport sector

Building capacity in culture and sport voluntary sector organisations

The specific challenge this report addresses is, ‘How can culture and sport organisations make an increased contribution to civil society and to better outcomes for local people through the emerging new arrangements and direction for public service delivery?'

It aims to set out the current context of public policy and the nature, scale and place of culture and sport within civil society. It looks at:

  • ‘new' models of service delivery
  • the needs and opportunities of culture and sport organisations in responding to change
  • a potential ‘prospectus' for capacity building with culture and sport civil society organisations in the future.

The research also explores the role of ‘brokerage' specifically in relation to the delivery of arts opportunities for children and young people. The Arts Council has recently taken further the idea in specific proposals to fund 'bridge delivery organisations' to help build relationships and capacity between arts organisations and children and young people's services. Discussions and some preliminary scoping work have also taken place with Sport England and the County Sport Partnership Network on development of the opportunities of CSP brokerage and commissioning for delivery of sport locally.

The report provides a framework for further debate and development across the sector as we respond to the changing landscape.

Building capacity in culture and sport voluntary sector organisations

Commissioning support programme: evaluation

The LGA has worked recently to support 10 councils or groups of councils as they develop their approach to commissioning. In each case the exact offer was tailored to suit local circumstances and need. However, the offer included:

  • research to map the commissioning landscape locally
  • an action learning programme to facilitate better understanding of the commissioning process
  • support to develop better relationships with commissioners in order to help make an impact on a specific local outcome such as health, adult social care or children and young people.

The evaluation report provides feedback on the process and the learning and provides some examples others can use to develop their own approach.

Learning from the commissioning support programme

Hertsmere Leisure Trust – application of the culture and sport outcomes framework

This report describes the process and outputs of the application by Hertsmere Leisure Trust of the Outcomes Framework for culture and sport services. While this project was being taken forward, and on the basis of its ability to demonstrate impact, the trust was able to secure over £40,000 worth of funding from strategic commissioners.

Hertsmere Cultural Impact Study (PDF, 39 pages, 519KB)

Appendix: Data reports and analysis (PDF, 41 pages, 617KB)

Creating better outcomes for children and young people by improving the commissioning of cultural services

This project helped to improve outcomes for children and young people through improving the commissioning of cultural services.

The research – involving 12 directors of children and young people's services or their representatives in four regions – indicates that cultural services are absent from the strategic commissioning process in those areas. While there is some excellent joint working, partnerships, grants and ‘spot purchasing' of particular services or projects, cultural services are not routinely involved as key players in the mainstream structures or processes of commissioning.

The research identifies a number of opportunities where cultural organisations can make a strong strategic contribution:

  • communicating children's voices and needs
  • priority underlying themes, such as raising self-esteem, aspirations and confidence, enjoying and achieving, and emotional wellbeing
  • problem areas where outcomes are areas of service delivery
  • locality and individually commissioned services.

These opportunities require creative and innovative approaches, finding ways to bring expression and new horizons to children and young people and opening up new opportunities for them.

While the project has focused on cultural services, the resulting issues and learning is likely to be equally applicable to sport and other related services. It should therefore be extrapolated throughout the culture and sport sector.

Creating better outcomes for children and young people (PDF, 42 pages, 908KB)

See also:

Strategic commissioning evaluation report part 1: Main report

Strategic commissioning evaluation report part 2: Detailed project reports

Strategic commissioning evaluation report part 3: Examples of commissioning landscape mapping

Strategic commissioning case studies


27 June 2012

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