Government will extend the use of independent juries and review panels to all of its arts and culture funding programs and prizes by April 1. Tourism, Culture and Heritage Minister Len Goucher said today, Feb. 19, the decision came at the recommendation of the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council, an advisory body to government. “We asked the partnership council how we could improve the way in which arts and culture funding is administered,” said Mr. Goucher. “They came back to us with a recommendation for a fair and open process that would involve the arts and culture community to an even greater extent.” Based on the processes already in place for several funding programs and prizes, the partnership council developed an external assessment panel model and recommended that it be adopted for the remainder of the department’s culture funding programs. The peer jury process used for arts funding programs and prizes is based on the model used by the former Nova Scotia Arts Council and it will not be changed. Juries will continue to be made up of three peers — all from the arts community — who make independent decisions respecting arts funding. External assessment panels will be similar to peer juries. They will be made up of three members, two from the arts and culture community and one staff person from the department. They will be responsible for making recommendations on culture funding for groups and organizations. The department will also begin releasing the names of jurors and panel members shortly after funding recipients are announced. “This is an innovative process that combines increased transparency with greater input from the arts and culture community,” said Mr. Goucher. “It is just one more way we are trying to strengthen the arts and culture sector in our province with the help of the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council.” Anyone interested in learning more about the jury or panel process is encouraged to visit the department website at www.gov.ns.ca/dtc/culture/culture_funding.asp for complete criteria and guidelines. A form for becoming a jury or panel member is also available online or by contacting the department at 902-424-4510. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage administers more than $6.2 million annually through its arts and culture funding programs.