July 28th, 2010
My thoughts on the current arts funding climate. I welcome your comments and if you know about any other lobbying campaigns let me know and I’ll add them at the bottom of the post. Also if you have done something about saving culture as you know it tell us about it! You might be able to help someone else.
Change to policy direction for the Big Lottery FundYesterday saw the first meeting of The Arts & Business Culture Forum. The forum was set up jointly by Arts & Business and the National Campaign for the Arts in response to the new Government’s call to national debate about culture. The forum is made up of 26 representatives of the arts, who were nominated and voted on to the panel.
It seems relevant that this first meeting took place amidst the week that saw the announcements that arts and culture quangos are to be abolished or merged. It still remains to be seen if they are being cut purely as a cost cutting measure or if the Government really believes that they are no longer necessary.
Judging by the reactions of many it seems that getting rid of the UK Film Council and the MLA (Museums Libraries and Archives Council) is a bad move, but isn’t this what everyone asked for? These aren’t “front line” arts-producing organisations being cut. I’m not sure how much of an effect the half a percent cut passed on to regularity funded organisations from the Art Council had on arts producers earlier this year but I’m sure it could have been a lot worse.
Money is still being spent on the arts. Southampton has been give 7.2 million by the Arts Council for a new art complex and it’s estimated that it will create 300 direct jobs.
It remains to been seen what will happen on 20 October, everyone should be prepared for further cuts, but if the Government are willing to talk about cuts as part of their Big Conversation, it seems sensible that we speak up about what we don’t want to see cut. We already know how “cheap” the arts are but no one has really mentioned how many people are turning to the arts as an escape from the dreary situation of recession that most of us have found ourselves in at some point over the last 2 years. Perhaps that’s the real value for money.
I think the government will listen. The Arts Council has been cut but it’s not gone, and the arts have their share of the lottery back. The people shape the culture of a country, not the government. If Catalonia can ban bullfighting something that is deeply rooted into the culture of Spain, then we can shape the future of the arts in Britain in any way we choose.