Theatre News

Local authority spending on the arts has halved since 2010

The Public Campaign for the Arts announced the findings

A ballet dancer
A ballet dancer

The Public Campaign for the Arts has highlighted the systematic decline in arts funding by local authorities since 2010.

In new research published recently and based on official Government data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, it was found that local authority expenditure on all cultural services – including public libraries, entertainment venues, museums, galleries and recreation facilities – has halved across England since 2010.

The cultural sector as a whole is one of the fastest-growing and worth tens of billions to the UK economy – as noted in the 2019 Shared Intelligence report into local government spending. As the Arts Council has flagged in recent reports, local government is the largest investor in the arts and culture sector in England.

The news comes as arts organisations in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (the second-most affluent in the country) are reeling following the news that the borough has slashed its arts funding for 2022-23 to zero.

Even local Conservative MP and former Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken out against the decision by Conservative counsellors in her constituency, saying she has "urged the Council to reconsider their position".

There has been a consistent decrease in local authority spending by RBWM over the last decade (greater than the national average) – in 2009-10 the council was spending £131.75 per person per year, but by 2020-21 this had fallen by 69 per cent to just £41.42.

Jack Gamble, director of the Public Campaign for the Arts, said: "The arts are not a luxury – they provide vital benefits to our lives and communities. We appreciate the financial pressures that local councils are under, partly due to cuts from national government since 2010, but sacrificing our cultural services is not the answer. We have to find a way to keep funding them alongside other services – it shouldn't be an either/or."

Comedian and writer Alfie Moore (It's A Fair Cop, BBC Radio 4) said: "Wonderful theatres and art centres like Norden Farm in Maidenhead are the beating heart of the local community. I do hope that RBWM decide to keep the funding in place and do everything they can to keep this fabulous venue open – it's really important."

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