Arts Loses £30m in Government’s Funding FreezeDate: 14 December 2004
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has heralded the ‘record rise’ for museums and galleries but performing arts organisations are less happy. In the 2004 Spending Review published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) yesterday, arts funding was frozen at £413 million per annum over the next three years.
Arts Council England, which controls distribution of the majority of that grant, says, taking a 2.7% rate of inflation into account, that equates to effectively a £30 million cut in subsidy over the period.
Previously hinted at with funding refusals of ‘new clients’ such as London’s much-love Bridewell Theatre, which must now close this month (See The Goss, 7 Oct 2004), the new austerity has rung alarm bells at the major arts institutions where leaders say the current state of renewed theatrical development will be compromised.
Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Michael Boyd commented: “This Government has done more than most to support the arts. But after seven years of encouragement and investment, it looks like the Government has changed their tune. Theatre is flourishing right across the UK, thanks in part to extra investment. But it’s no good planting seedlings then depriving them of water. The Government is in danger of neglecting the very theatres and artists it’s worked so hard to encourage. It’s not just bad for audiences of the future. It’s bad economics.”
Sir Christopher Frayling, chairman of ACE, confirmed the reality of these fears in an interview with the Guardian newspaper. Looking forward to the apportionment of ACE money, to be announced in March 2005, he said: “We will be robbing Peter to pay Paul. This prevents arts organisations from engaging in proper strategic planning. In fact, the arts have been very strategic and well-planned over the past few years. It would only have taken £10 million to sustain this – chicken-feed in government terms.”
Overall, the DCMS budget rose by 3.5% in the new Treasury settlement. Museums and galleries benefited with above-inflation rises for running costs and a 200% hike for maintenance bills of national institutions. Elsewhere, one-off £5 million boosts were granted to London for renovations of the South Bank Centre and to Liverpool for its 2008 European Capital of Culture programme.
- by Terri Paddock