Independent report calls for review of arts council and cultural funding in England

Hard Facts To Swallow highlights ongoing disparity between London and regions
Patrick Steel
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Hard Facts To Swallow, a report by the authors of Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital, calls for reform of arts and culture funding in England, including Arts Council England (ACE).

The report finds that between 2015 and 2018, 48.3% of ACE’s grant-in-aid funding, taking into account region-specific funding for Major Partner Museums, will go to London organisations, despite approximately 85% of the English population living outside the capital.

This follows the findings of Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital that in 2012/13, ACE distributed £320m to the arts, with £20 per head allocated in London against £3.60 in the rest of England.

Hard Facts To Swallow’s conclusion states: “Our research and analysis over the past 18 months illustrates the systemic inability of the arts council to reform its policy without external intervention. The forces of custom, practice and vested interest are just too strong, and the overall impression is of an increasingly closed system that operates with insufficient transparency.

“We contend that after the next general election any incoming administration should fundamentally review the arrangements for funding the arts and culture in England, including the arts council itself.”

Alan Davey, ACE chief executive, said: “The authors raise a number of issues that are at the heart of our 10 year strategy, agreed with the art and culture sector. We’ve been addressing the balance of funding between London and elsewhere since that strategy was launched in 2010, and we will build on that in our next funding period.

“The trend is in the right direction. We need to be realistic about the speed of progress given the difficult economic picture. We agree with the authors that it’s essential our investment reaches audiences all over the country. We think it will take time to extend reach and build capacity, particularly at a time of cuts in funding.”

But David Anderson, the president of the Museums Association, said it was "deeply disappointing" to discover that ACE's funding of museums and the arts outside London remained "rampantly unfair".

"The scandal of Northampton City Council's sale for £16m of Sekhemka is yet more evidence of the funding firestorm that is now engulfing many publicly-funded museums in the English regions," he said. "The discordant sound you hear in the distance is that of ACE fiddling."

Links

Hard Facts To Swallow

ACE response to Hard Facts To Swallow

Update
15.10.2104

We said 46.3%, but the report says 48.3% of ACE's grant-in-aid funding, when including MPM funding, will be spent in London in 2015/16.



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