London venues positive about Arts Council grants

Cultural organisations across England have been told whether they will receive the funding they requested over the next four years.

Nearly 250 London-based venues, theatres, galleries and groups applied for money from Arts Council England, which has £100m less in its budget owing to government cuts.

Organisations from around the city explain how their new grants will be spent - and whether they are pleased or disappointed with their awards.

ARTSDEPOT, NORTH FINCHLEY - funding cut by 11%

"We didn't get quite what we were looking for but we got something pretty close to it," says director Nigel Cutting.

"But we've had a challenging time in our dealings with Barnet Council. They cut our funding and from the day after tomorrow we will receive no local authority funding, so that's clearly been a big blow.

Image caption Artsdepot said people in outer London should not have to travel into the West End for culture

"We believe that we're a key arts organisation for outer north London. People shouldn't have to travel into central London in order to get access to cultural activities," he says.

"We did a project last year with people suffering from dementia and their carers. When people are looking for ways of treating dementia and improving the quality of life of people suffering from it, one of the first things they do is turn to the arts.

"When my own father could barely remember who I was, he could still play the piano, and that was still a lifeline for him."


"We see it as a £100,000 win, rather than a cut," says marketing director Leigh Stops.

"Everyone had to effectively reapply for their funding - the going-in point for organisations was zero, so everything you get is actually a bonus.

"And we're actually getting a bit more from Hounslow Council from April.

Image caption There would have to be "some reshaping of the programme," the Watermans Arts Centre said

"It means for 2012 we're going in about 20% down, and we think we've done pretty well out of it, given the level of cuts people are suffering.

"There will be some reshaping of the programme, clearly. But we are a multi-purpose arts centre and therefore to an extent we orchestrate what we offer to what people want.

"There are moments of great uncertainty," he adds, "but I can look at it and think, in this case, between 30% and 40% of my income is absolutely secure for the next four years. So there are some benefits, but it's not without stress."

SOUTH LONDON GALLERY, PECKHAM - funding up by 107%

"It's absolutely fantastic news and everybody here is really thrilled," says director Margot Heller.

"We've been inundated with e-mails and phone calls and messages of goodwill, and visitors coming up to say how happy they are, so it's a very special day in the history of the South London Gallery.

Image caption The South London Gallery expanded its building last June and said its work had inspired other venues

"We have actually been in discussions with the Arts Council for several years about the fact that the organisation would double in size physically when we expanded our building last year, and the accompanying expansion of our film, live art and education programmes.

"We've built momentum around the area and other galleries are springing up. There's real energy and vibrancy, which we've played a part in and have contributed to," she says.

"One key thing for us in recent years has been 'partnership' working. The South London Gallery is leading the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project, which is across Tate, the Royal Academy, the Whitechapel Gallery and the Hayward Gallery. It's bringing together the young people's groups that we all work with, which is a first, as far as I know."


"We're not distraught. We applied for significantly less than we're getting in the current year," says director Jane Earl.

"We do generate a lot of earned income through our tenancies - we have 20 creative and cultural businesses in the building, who basically pay to keep the doors of the organisation open, and we also have a commercial cinema business. But this is not Armageddon for Rich Mix.

Image caption The Rich Mix centre said the awarding of £1m of taxpayers' money was "something to celebrate"

"What we've got is a fantastic gifted space. We think we need to be cleverer in working with other companies like Tara Arts, who are in the building this week with a programme of events for Bangladesh independence week.

"We may have to look at some of our pricing policies for access to some of our events," she admits, "and we may change the balance of the sort of things we do.

"But we are a venue which is committed to providing excellent and accessible art to all the communities of the world in east London.

"On the plus side, we've been offered £1m of taxpayers' money over the next three years, and I think that's probably something to celebrate."

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