4. The Festival Audit
Financial support from the public sector does come with responsibilities and demands of policy accountability just as private sector support is laden with the onus of profit and pay outs. After the 2005 Festival the London Development Agency requested an audit be undertaken to ensure the event was meeting local creative industry policy goals and aims. The audit would clarify the role of the LDA and the Festival. It would also detail the vital cultural return to the city’s taxpayer.
Strategem Limited, an independent audit firm, was retained to review and assess the Festival’s delivery, activities and expenses. The audit found that the Festival did indeed deliver on a number of policy objectives but wasn’t publicising its activities and initiatives as widely as might be expected. “Essentially the London Design Festival is having a positive impact on the Design industry, however the reach of it impact is unclear and not aligned towards specific objectives,” the report stated.
Importantly the audit delineated and mapped the range of Festival activities into eight different areas and domains. During the critical birth, growth, expansion and retraction testing time of the first years of the festival many initiatives and projects were tried. Some were kept and improved upon while others were shelved and stored to possibly be re-launched later. The 2005 publicly funded audit highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Festival in its current state. It gave important recommendations and advice for moving forward and also provided the first activity mapping document for the organisers. It also lead to a new three year funding contract form the LDA.
Further, the 2005 audit and activity map would provide the basis of the 2007 Festival report to the LDA and serve as the framework for the 2008 business plan (Appendix 28). The audit also proved useful in the development of the London Design Festival 2008-2012 strategic plan. (Appendix 29)