There is a clear north-south divide in capital funding allocations

London-based projects receive more lottery cash

Patrick Steel, Issue 112/06, p5, 01.06.2012
Fewer than 15% of successful applications to ACE and HLF this year were from north
In England, more than 43% of successful applications to the first rounds of Arts Council England’s (ACE) capital investment programme and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) major project fund this year were from London, compared with fewer than 15% from the north.

Of the eight HLF projects awarded more than £5m this year, from a pool of 14 applications, four were awarded to London and the south-east. There were no applications from the north-west or Yorkshire.

Manchester Museum director Nick Merriman said: “The biggest barrier [to HLF funding] is the expectation of match funding. Despite Jeremy Hunt’s efforts, London-based museums are likelier to attract philanthropists.

“The London effect leads to a mutually reinforcing network of funders and a consequent difficulty in attracting funding outside that circle because the pool is smaller outside London.”

An HLF spokeswoman said: “Of the 23 major grants awarded over the past five years, 12 are outside London and the south-east.

“Given the location of many major heritage attractions, plus population spread, we consider this a reasonable reflection of the location and demand within the sector.”

Arts council figures reveal that of 26 successful applications from 49, London accounted for eight – twice as many as any other region. The only application from the west Midlands was unsuccessful.

David Fleming, director of National Museums Liverpool, said: “It’s harder to raise money in beleaguered communities than wealthy ones, and national funding should take account of those disparities.

“There needs to be a national policy and strategy for spending in England. Artistic excellence is part of it, but should not be the sole criterion.”

An ACE spokesman said: “The success rate for London applications (53%) is lower than in a number of other regions, with the east (66.6%), south-east (80%) and Yorkshire (100%) all having a higher success rate.

“As with the first round of the capital programme, applications to future rounds will be assessed on individual merits… after which we will seek to balance the projects funded in each round in terms of timescales, partnerships funding and risk.”