Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Spending Review 2010 and Cultural Funding Cuts

How badly has Cultural Funding been slashed in the Spending Review?

Museums and Galleries breathed a sigh of relief at cuts of 15% - and admission will remain free.  Similarly, the British Film Institute came in at 15% although this should be seen in the context of earlier cuts to promised, badly needed investment.  The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has had its budget cut by 24%.

Arts Council England has been particularly badly effected with its budget cut by nearly 30% over the next four years.  This is the top end of what was expected, but what will it mean in practice?  Clearly it is difficult to know at this stage.  As Nicholas Serota, the Director of the Tate, previewed in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago:

"A 10-15% cut in cash terms over four years would be a challenge of the kind that arts organisations regularly surmount; more than this will threaten the whole ecosystem, cutting off the green shoots with the dead wood, reducing the number of plays and exhibitions, discouraging innovation, risk and experiment and threatening the ability of organisations to earn or raise money for themselves."

According to Alan Davey, the Arts Council's Chief Executive, this will mean the end of at least 100 organisations.  That sounds like a conservative estimate to me.


The Con-Dems ludicrous mantra is that the cuts are both neccessary and fair, or even 'progressive'.  The evidence does not bear this out.  For example, Jeremy-culture-vandal-Hunt has asked the Arts Council to attempt to limit cuts to its 850 Regularly Funded Organisations - big theatres, opera houses, that sort of thing - to no more than 15% meaning that the rest must be made up from cuts to administration and other programs.  Programs such as Creative Partnerships and Find Your Talent that focus on cultural provision children and young people from disadvantaged communities.  In the cultural sector, as in society more generally, the savage attack on the welfare state will affect the poor disproportionately, but at least the likes of George Osbourne will still be able to go to the opera.

I'll leave the final word to Ian Brown, West Yorkshire Playhouse artistic director:

“As a direct result of these government reductions there is the potential that a whole generation of people will lose out and be unable to enjoy the fruits of a complex and diverse cultural landscape. I strongly believe that these cuts will make no, or very little, impact on the UK’s deficit and that what we are looking at is a very conservative approach to subsidised arts funding.”

Conservative indeed.

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