The arts secured an inflationary increase in today’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) to the House of Commons. Subsidised theatres and companies are now awaiting further details of the settlement and budgetary instructions from the Arts Council to determine how the announcement will affect their future.

The CSR is a complete reassessment of the Government’s spending and a reallocation of resources for the next three years from 2008-2011. Presenting this, his first pre-Budget report, chancellor of the exchequer Alistair Darling said this afternoon: “The budget for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will increase to £2.2 billion in three years’ time. This guarantees an inflation increase for the arts, free access to museums and galleries, extra for sport so that every child and young person can take part in five hours of sport a week. And it will deliver the Cultural Olympiad in the run up to London 2012.”

Commenting on today’s announcement, Sir Christopher Frayling, chair of Arts Council England, said: "This is a very good result. We have campaigned long and hard for this settlement, and in the context of a tough spending round it is good to know that the government has listened to the case we put for the arts. This increase will allow us to build on the current excellent health of the arts in England. We now await the detail of our settlement, so that we can set a budget and inform arts organisations of their funding for 2008-2011 as quickly as possible."

Arts leaders, including National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, have been outspoken over the past year about possible cuts in funding, enlisting Oscar winners and other celebrities in their campaign (See The Goss, 23 Feb 2007). It was feared that, particularly in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics, the arts may face standstill funding (not taking into account inflation) or even as much as a five percent drop. As last week’s press briefing to launch the NT’s Annual Report (See News, 2 Oct 2007), Hytner said he’d be happy to receive inflationary rises.

An Arts Council spokeswoman told that initial letters will be sent to all of its funded bodies by the middle of next week laying out a timeframe for planning, followed, after ACE receives its headline settlement and sets its own budgetary priorities, with a letter outlining specific intentions and final funding arrangements per organisation.

- by Terri Paddock