Policy and Best Practice

Questions for you and your team

  • What policies do we have in place?
  • Are our policies up to date?
  • Do we need to review and update our policies?
  • What other best practices for the sector should we include?
  • How can a commission or working with an artist influence future policy and best practice? E.g if an artist is championing or advocating working in a particular way or following a certain set of values can this be continued after the project is finished?

The following policies are now standard and should be referenced (and included where appropriate) in your commissioning process.  Remember to add and acknowledge dates for review and update of the policies.

  • Environmental and Sustainability policies
  • Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion policy
  • Procurement & Purchasing procedures and policies
  • Due Diligence
  • Information and Access
  • Paying policy


The University of Edinburgh Art Collection has found that both using institutional policy, and developing new policy, can be great ways to bolster existing activity and advocate for support towards working with artists.

Giving time and space to develop new policies can be a struggle if time is limited but it is vital work.

The potential for policy to unlock discussion and opportunity across our institution has been demonstrated by the number of requests from other departments for the Commissioning Guidelines.

Within the University of Edinburgh Commissioning Guidelines other institutional polices are referred to and will be checked again considering updates and review periods to ensure ongoing relevance. The reference to, and using of, an additional range of policies supports colleagues to both place the work they are undertaking in the wider institutional picture, and emphasize the range of potential impacts.

Having a policy or sharing working models can also allow you to deploy your practices beyond your limitations and help raise the profile for the artists you’ve supported e.g. shared externally as a sector resource.

At the University of Edinburgh in-kind support for the design of policies and guidelines is possible between departments, however the value of formal design cannot be underestimated. It is a cost worth footing as it adds to the strength of the messaging of the document.  Consider in-house design styles and update your policies within this framework.  Remember to share your updated policies through your peers and/or organisation for review and access.

This is a live toolkit.  Please help us to develop and improve it by leaving comments in our feedback form.  Thank you.

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