Arts Funding Cuts

Some thoughts written immediately after the BBC’s Late Night Review on funding cuts (see above)

@audiencesdavid may have felt the level of debate was derisery but at least national TV was covering the debate. @BenPBradshaw will be missed as shadow culture secretary – you couldn’t help feel he had an understanding and passion for what he represented. Instead he’s been replaced by @ivanlewismp who has been conspicious by his absence in the post CSR debate. This was his reaction on Tuesday – no doubt written for him:-

“These disproportionate cuts are bad news for our economy and bad news for our society. Over the past decade Britain has become a world leader in the creative industries with Government investment stimulating jobs and private sector growth. Cuts without a strategy for maintaining the excellence of some of the most dynamic sectors in our economy is ill-conceived and shows that the Government has no plan for growth or jobs. With this level of cuts, and the pressure on local authority budgets, museums, galleries and community projects across the country will fear for their future. World class arts and heritage projects attract tourists, celebrate the best of Britain and play an important role in determining the character of our country. The scale of these cuts is unfair and damages a sector which should play a key part in our economic recovery.”

Ben Bradshaw put it much more succinctly – lets be clear Culture has done very badly here – the second worse settlement.

All the evidence suggests that @jeremy_hunt is a career politician who is completely focused on rapid promotion. No wonder @edvaizey found it difficult to counter Bradshaws assertion that DCMS had rolled over and happily exposed its under belly. And unfortunately unless Ivan Lewis rapidly steps up to the plate it seems that in the house at least we dont have anyone to fight the corner.

It could have been so much worse said Peyton -Jones of the Serpentine Gallery. But the truth is it is so much worse than the 15% cuts that Vaizey was quick to keep returning to:-

– the arts council will surely be dessimated in order to achieve 50% cuts. It went through an awful lot of pain to achieve 21% recently so to be asked to find another 50% must be nigh on impossible. It may just be able to fulfill its function as a grant giver – but as an adviser, a cajoler and a strategic body? How it can fulfil its function as a development agency for the next 5 years on a skeleton team has to be highly doubtful.
-for those RFO’s (regularly funded organisations) the truth is actually so much more than a 10-15% cut. With swinging local authority cuts looming most organisations can expect a further cut there. And as @davemoutrey pointed out trading income could well dip as the recession takes its toll. O and then theres the small matter of a VAT increase..
– and whats in store for the thousands of artists, producers and individuals who make things happen outside of the RFO sector the future is very very unclear.

Whats to be positive about? Well there was the announcement today that music education was ring fenced (see here) – but look closely and the definition of music education seems to be almost exclusively classical. There is so much more to music than that!

The arts of course will survive and Vaizey might be right to suggest we have some of the best arts leaders who will help us through- but as @juliaatthehub asked how did that happen? – and what state willl be in in five years time is any ones guess. Unlikely to be no 1 in the world I guess.

Register with @ivaluethearts

Do follow #artsfunding

The arts council respond to the cuts here
Coverage from the stage on the arms length principle
Jeremy Hunts letter to Liz Fogan hereGuardian running blog on the cuts here


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