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Culture Minister announces 'the biggest shake-up in arts funding for a generation' with 80 new NPOs

A big change-up will see organisations outside of London receive a greater portion of funds

Curve in Leicester
© Ellie Kurttz

Culture Minister Nadine Dorries has unveiled her plans for "the biggest shake-up in arts funding for a generation", with "plans to increase and better distribute funding for the sector to previously overlooked or neglected areas".

The aim is to decentralise funding, with "cultural organisations in London to be supported to expand operations beyond the capital so more communities benefit from their work", running in parallel with the government's levelling up strategy.

According to the new report, published today, places such as Wolverhampton, Hartlepool, Rotherham, Peterborough and Oldham will see increased support, with organisations also required to "have physical plaques in or on their buildings, and carry branding on their websites" that highlight them as recipients of government spending.

There will be a 19 per cent increase in cultural investment by 2025 (to £250 million), the final year of the Spending Review period.

The current list of NPOs (national portfolio organisations) is around 828 – it is said that 80 new NPOs could be created, while around 100 will receive this increased funding. It is not stated how many organisations may lose their NPO status.

Arts Council England has stated it has "an instruction to move £24m per annum out of London", and that "some London organisations will be encouraged to relocate outside of the capital".

Concerns are acknowledged, with ACE going on to add: "We understand this is challenging news for London applicants, and we acknowledge the impact for them. London is a leading global cultural centre, and we will continue to invest in our capital, but the budget will be reduced by approximately 15 per cent."

Chris Stafford, chief executive of Leicester's Curve theatre, said: "We believe everyone, irrespective of their circumstances, should have equal opportunity to engage with world-class culture and fulfil their creative potential. We welcome the new Arts Council investment programme which will see a greater balance of public investment across the country, ensuring no one is left behind.

"As an NPO located in the heart of England, we create work with, in and for our local communities every day of the week. Each year we engage up to 60,000 people through free and low-cost creative programmes and activities, we welcome over 330,000 people to our Leicester home and our productions on tour are seen by in excess of 500,000 people across the UK – none of this would be possible without the crucial investment from Arts Council England."

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