A Practical Guide to Governance

In these days of uncertainty and change, the governance of arts and culture organisations has risen in importance.

This Practical Guide offers a range of essential information, bespoke resources and downloadable templates that address some of the most frequently asked questions in relation to the effective governance of cultural organisations.

This guide is for general purposes and cannot cover particular uncertainties and risks such as those that arose during the Coronavirus emergency and its aftermath. Some regulatory advice proved to be transient, but the principles of good governance remain as true today as before the pandemic affected our sector.

Funders are also considering their response to the pandemic, and whether grant agreements should be updated with revised expectations of governance. For example, the current Arts Council England’s (ACE’s) National Portfolio Organisation application process included guidance on the standards of governance that are expected from applicants. It is therefore important to consider what amounts to good governance taking into account the view of funders, beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, board members and (of course) regulators.


Since 2007 Clore Leadership has run a board development programme, working with boards and senior management of cultural organisations to improve understanding of the strategic and supportive leadership and the necessary challenge that an effective board provides. Based on this experience, this guide is intended to be a practical aid offering assistance on the more pertinent points of governance and questions that might arise.


Explore the contents of the online practical guidance by clicking on each section below.

Author Acknowledgements

The Practical Guide is the online version of Governance in the arts and museums: a practical guide, compiled in May 2017 by Clore Governance Associates Prue Skene (who has led the Clore Leadership Programme’s board development programme from its inception), Keith Arrowsmith and Tom Wilcox, who between them provide a broad understanding of governance in the cultural sector through a multitude of perspectives.

Commissioned by Clore Leadership with support from Arts Council England.

Last updated: June 2020.

Prue Skene CBE

Prue Skene

Prue has worked in the arts all her life, running performing companies such as Ballet Rambert and the English Shakespeare Company, setting up a Fellowship programme to give grants to artists from all artforms as Director of the Arts Foundation, and working as a freelance consultant, now mainly supporting arts organisations with their governance.

Her non-executive appointments have included President of the Theatrical Management Association, a non-executive Director of Royal United Hospital NHS Trust and of Bath Theatre Royal and Rosie Kay Dance Company, and Chair of the Arvon Foundation, Rambert Dance Company, Free Word and the Stephen Spender Trust. From 1992-2000 she was a member of the Arts Council of England, chairing its Dance and then Lottery Panels; her experiences during that time are outlined in her book, Capital Gains: How the National Lottery transformed England’s Arts, published in October 2017.

Prue is a Governance Associate of Clore Leadership and has led its Board Development programme since 2007, delivering Board away-days and training days as well as governance sessions on the Clore Courses. She is currently Chair of Cardboard Citizens and trustee of the Nureyev Foundation. She was awarded a CBE in the 2000 Birthday Honours List for services to the arts, especially dance.

Keith Arrowsmith

Keith Arrowsmith is head of the legal team at Counterculture Partnership LLP, a multi-disciplinary partnership. He qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and has a reputation for offering practical, cost effective legal advice in the arts, heritage, digital, and media sectors. He provides guidance and assistance on a variety of issues that impact cultural organisations and charities such as governance and charity law. Keith also contributes to workshops, planning days, talks, written reports, and provides other bespoke guidance. Keith is a visiting governance lecturer on Clore Leadership, the STAY programme, and the Arts Council England Resilience Programme. He was an Independent Advisory Board member for Screen Yorkshire, and Clerk to the new National College for the Creative and Cultural Industries. Keith is co-author of the Clore Leadership publication Governance in the Arts and Museums: a Practical Guide. He is also a member of the Charity Law Association.


Please note that the guide has been written for arts organisations and museums based in England and Wales. It aims to provide general information only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.

We aim to keep the contents as current as possible but the Clore Leadership Programme (and the authors) do not warrant or guarantee the quality, recruitment accuracy or completeness of any information.

Your feedback will be gratefully received so that it may be continually improved and updated. Please email us on CGA@cloreleadership.org

Copies or extracts of the guide may be used by and distributed within not-for-profit organisations. All other rights reserved. If you wish to use the practical guide in any other way, please contact us.

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