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What is the future for arts funding?

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Will Gompertz | 13:44 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

I've been watching this morning's culture select committee where the Arts Council England's chair Liz Forgan and chief executive Alan Davey were being put through their paces.

After a nervous start by the duo (Alan Davey appeared both shaken and stirred under Labour MP Tom Watson's interrogation regarding the ACE's funding of The Public arts centre in Wolverhampton), they settled down to explain how they were going to fund the arts in this time of cuts.

The question of flogging parts of their art collection to help raise money was brought up. Liz Forgan batted this away as a source for funding arts organisations but agreed to consider selling certain works (de-accessioning) to provide extra money to buy new art.

But the meat of the conversation was about the imminent cuts ACE is going to make to the organisations that it currently funds on a yearly basis, which they call Regularly Funded Organisations, of which there are 840.

They have asked all of them to reapply for their funding, as well as inviting previously unfunded organisations to put in an application. The upshot is a total of 1,340 applications. Given that the intention is to cut their existing portfolio by between 100 and 200 arts companies, this new level of applications is going to make their work much, much harder. It's possible nearly half of the applicants will be disappointed and displeased.

So when they make their announcement in 60 days' time there will vociferous criticism from a lot of disgruntled people. That's to be expected. But what will we end up with? Will tough decisions have been made? And will they, as Labour MP Paul Farrelly MP asked, take the opportunity to re-draw the arts map and spread their largesse more evenly across the country and not have so much of it concentrated in London?


  • Comment number 1.

    Abolition of the ACE would be a wonderful thing.

    As a principle the public should not be taxed to fund other people's artistic tastes.

    Any art or artist of any serious value will find its/his/her market.

    The abolition of the ACE will also put a lot of people out of public-sector employment - but that is a side benefit.

  • Comment number 2.

    nice to hear MaxSceptic comments shame he has not been to seen anything in ages.the Arts is one of the biggest employers in this country bringing millions from home grown and tourist.
    Yes if cut were made to the Arts many west end and national theatre would not seen must in drop of money but we have hundred of theatres in nearly every town and city in this country giving employment,injoyment and insight to millions of people.And without arts council funding dozen will go to the wall just look at Arts depot which has had it local funding cut.
    what we really need to do is look at the national theatres and national opera which get millions to produce large shows to v little audiences.if these millions were spread out to more regional group i fill it would be better in the long run.

  • Comment number 3.

    Lets base Arts funding on value added: theatres bring civilised people so increase property values: Bankside was grim before Globe and TateM.
    Lets acknowledge the massive added value of our arts institutions and tax a proportion of the added property values they create.

  • Comment number 4.

    Fantastic to see comments on the end of this piece which value the contribution that arts make to towns and cities - both in attracting other businesses and residents, and therefore development and regeneration, but also in the provision of employment opportunities and entertainment.

    It's a huge shame that any arts cuts have to happen at all, but we can't forever be working on the basis that state subsidy will always exist. It won't. So it comes back to creating relationships with those who really care about specific organisations and projects to help fund. As Lord Wei was suggesting recently, many people have some sort of 'philanthropic capacity' whether thats £2 or £2,000.

    We've just launched a new platform which is rewarding that capacity with some very fun ideas. Classical Opera Company are providing opportunities to 'buy a bar' of music, whilst MIMA want you in on the creative process. Interested to hear thoughts if you care to take a click around:


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