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19 Jun, 2010

Arts funding cuts – not as bad as feared

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Funding for frontline arts organisations reduced by just 0.5% as Arts Council England stumps up £9m from its reserves

Arts Council England today announced a 0.5% funding cut for each of the 808 frontline arts organisations to which it regularly gives money – far smaller than had been feared.

Over the last four weeks, staff at Ace have been drawing up plans on how to implement a £19m cut imposed on it by the new government. Today, the body announced that it will attempt to protect arts organisations as much as possible by dipping into its reserves for more than half the amount it needs to find.

News of a 0.5% cut for everyone – which adds up to £1.8m of the £19m cut – is, in truth, a relief. At the top end it equates to a £142,000 cut for the Royal Opera House; £104,000 for the South Bank Centre; £99,000 for the National Theatre; £92,000 for the English National Opera; and £80,000 for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Further down the funding ladder, it means a tiny organisation like the Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra in Liverpool will have to make a cut, this year, of £105. The average cut amounts to £2,000.

Ace decided to make small cuts of equal proportions because they need to be implemented within the current financial year.

Dame Liz Forgan, who chairs the council, said: “In-year cuts are always the most difficult to manage, because plans have already been made against an expected level of income. But we have done our best to minimise the effect on our funded organisations and the art they produce so brilliantly.”

The biggest chunk of the £19m of cuts being forced upon Ace will come from the £18.4m of reserves that the organisation has built up over the years: a figure of £9m. Cuts of 4% are being imposed on two organisations which do not directly produce art: a £1.6m cut for Creativity Culture and Education, the charity which works with children; and a £160,000 cut to Arts & Business, the charity which encourages philanthropy.

Ace also said £6m was being saved by postponing a major public engagement project, cuts to audience development plans and cuts to the funds used for partnership working with local authorities.

The final piece in the jigsaw is another £400,000 in efficiency savings, on top of the £6.5m the Arts Council has already made. “There really is no more to save,” the council’s chief executive, Alan Davey, said today.

Davey said that although 0.5% did not sound a lot, many organisations would find it tricky or testing to make the savings.

The real fear, though, is: what next? Although the sums of money involved are minuscule compared with other areas of government spending – and even though more income is generated than what is spent – many in the arts community fear the worst when the government’s next spending review is published in the autumn.

Forgan said: “The financial climate is tough, but the arts remain a compelling case for public investment. We will continue to put that case to government, and to make it clear that now reserves have been spent, the burden of any further cuts will fall on funded organisations.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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