Bazalgette: concern over loss of local government culture investment

Patrick Steel, 05.03.2013
Arts Council England chair answers questions online
Peter Bazalgette, chair of Arts Council England (ACE), answering questions on the ACE website this morning, said what he was “most concerned about right now” was the pressure on local government and “the prospect of losing as much as a third, or more, of their investment in arts and culture over the next three years”.

Local authorities invest more than the arts council does, he said, so this is a real threat, adding: “We need to remind all local authorities that arts and culture are one of the ‘essential services’”.

This echoes his comments in an interview with The Guardian last month, in which he said: “I’m going to spend the first six months [as chair of ACE] talking to the Local Government Association and also the local authorities.

“I’m very happy to go wherever I need to. If they withdraw 100% funding, we can’t replace it. We palpably don’t have the money to do so and that puts those institutions in jeopardy.”

Bazalgette, who took over from Liz Forgan as chair of the arts council last month, was in Newcastle yesterday ahead of the council’s final vote on its budget. The council announced it would cut arts funding by 100% until an intervention by the arts council and local arts organisations saw it change its position.

Bazalgette also discussed his plans to use digital technology “to bring more art to more people in more places”, and ACE’s remit to encourage philanthropy for arts and culture.

“Catalyst has been a very good start and is unlocking new funds,” he said, “but we'll be developing a broader strategy this year, to see how else we can assist fundraising for the arts.”

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