About The Ark
Established in 1995, The Ark is a dedicated cultural centre for children. We create opportunities for children, along with their families and friends or their school, to discover and love art. We commission, present, and produce work for, by, and about children, from the ages of two to 12 years old, in our architecturally award-winning home in Temple Bar as well as in our local community and on tour nationally. Through work with leading artists, children enjoy performances in our theatre and exhibitions in our gallery, and participate in creative workshops. We also develop professional development opportunities for teachers and artists.
The Ark is governed by a voluntary board; its work is delivered by an artistic and administrative team, led by the director. The Ark is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, funded by the Arts Council, the Department of Education and Skills, and Dublin City Council.
The Ark’s approach to governance
The Ark is proud to uphold best practices in governance, particularly in relation to children and the arts. The Ark is compliant with the Arts Council Transparency Scale and the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising; in 2020, the Ark will be fully compliant with the Charities Regulator’s Governance Code. The Ark is compliant with the annual requirements of the Charities Regulatory Authority and the Companies Registration Office.
Two years ago, The Ark’s board and executive embarked on a journey to put the principles of those codes more fully into action. Highlights include:
- In 2018, the board established an Audit and Risk Committee, which meets three times annually. Each meeting has a purpose specific to its time of year:
- January, to review the proposed budget for the coming year, and, with any required changes, agree to recommend the budget for board approval. (This occurs after the year has started due to the timing of public funding )
- May, to review the audited accounts for the previous year, and, with any required changes, agree to recommend the accounts for board
- November, to interrogate The Ark’s risk register, line-by-line, with the executive. (Risk register updates are a standing agenda item in regular board )
- In 2019, the board established a Resourcing Committee, which meets at least three times annually. Its remit encompasses board development and senior-level organisational issues. This committee identifies and interviews a panel of potential trustees to address the board’s long-term succession requirements (six to 24 months).
- The board established a Governance Working Group, which meets at least three times annually. While governance is a board responsibility, this group provides hands-on support in achieving compliance with the Charities Regulator’s requirements. It is anticipated that, when compliance is achieved next year, this group may dissolve, and operational responsibility will revert to the
- In 2019, the Ark adopted a new Diversity and Inclusion Policy, developed in consultation with The Ark Children’s Council, staff, artists, and board: https://ark.ie/content/files/The-Ark-Diversity-Inclusion-Policy-Feb-2019.pdf. This identified new ways to reflect diversity in The Ark’s programming and operations, which have been put into practice and shared with partners.
- In 2019, The Ark adopted a comprehensively revised and externally vetted Child Safeguarding Policy: https://ark.ie/content/files/Approved-Child-Safeguarding-Policy-2019.pdf. This document, along with training and processes supporting it, aims to be best-in-class in Ireland. It will be shared with other arts organisations that work with
- The Ark board adopted a new Financial Reserves Policy. The policy specifies both a minimum reserve equivalent to three months’ average operating costs, and a schedule to achieve this by the end of
- An Operational Plan for 2019 and 2020 was generated to facilitate implementation of The Ark’s four-year strategy, and to provide board and executive with a single view of all activities ongoing throughout the
Impact and plans for the future
The committees have provided better support for The Ark’s operations, with more hands-on assistance than was feasible for the entire board. The policies have provided a solid common understanding of how The Ark’s mission and values are brought to life, and lay out clear and simple guidelines on how we operate for staff, board, and stakeholders.
However, committees and policies only provide the structures for good governance. In 2020 and beyond we will be focused on activating those structures, for example by monitoring the performance of new processes, and identifying areas for improvement. This will continue to enable The Ark to achieve its objectives and to serve the children of Ireland.