Peer assessment at the PEI Council of the Arts is the use of independent artists and other professionals working in the field to assess grant applications, advise on priorities, and make recommendations to the Council on the awarding of grants. Peers are people who, by virtue of their experience, knowledge and open-mindedness, are capable of making a fair and informed assessment of the comparative merits of grant applications. Through peer assessment, the Council involves the arts community directly in its operations.
Of all the decisions the Council is empowered to make, its decisions about which artists and artistic projects will receive grants are the most sensitive, the most visible and the most likely to provoke criticism. Every year the Council receives in excess of 130 grant applications. Some 30 grants are awarded, and some for less than the amount requested. While it is never possible to please everyone who has a stake in the grant decisions, the peer assessment process is the most fair mechanism available to the Council for grant adjudications.
The Council welcomes spirited discussion and disagreement as a natural outcome of its intensely competitive work. At its best, the thrust and parry of democratic debate about arts grants confirms the power of the arts - their unique ability to generate strong passions and equally strong discord. The Council must therefore ensure that its grants to artists and arts organizations are dispensed with integrity, transparency and fairness and that its policies are clear and consistent.
In the Council's view, it is essential that:
- applicants for Council grants have confidence that they have been assessed by people with the knowledge and expertise to make sound qualitative judgments in their field of the arts;
- artists and other arts professionals who serve as members of peer assessment committees are able to attest to the credibility, honesty and fairness of the process;
- members of the public and Provincial Government know that the Council's assessment system serves the public interest because it is the most equitable means available for evaluating artistic merit and is governed by policies and procedures that are clearly and consistently applied.
The PEI Council of the Arts is committed to the use of Peer Assessment in all major grant programs.
Peer Assessment Review Guide