One of the things I introduced after taking up my position in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure was the practice of bi-monthly meetings with the chairs and chief-executives of the main arms-length bodies and this afternoon I met with Rosemary Kelly and Roisin McDonough of the Arts Council.
I find these meetings very valuable as they are an opprortunity for us to talk about some of the current issues that I have identified through meeting arts practitioners or attending arts events. There is also an opportunity for the folk I am meeting to raise issues directly with me.
There are formal accountability meetings with departmental officials but they are more about issues such as governance. These meetings are rather different and they afford an opportunity for a free-ranging discussion about the area of activity, which in this case is the arts.
DCAL has more arms-length bodies than any other department and around 80% of the departmental budget is spent through these bodies.