The recently refurbished South London Gallery has received a 107% real terms funding boost. Image: Andy Stagg

ACE cuts 51 regularly funded visual arts organisations

Geraldine Kendall with additional reporting by Patrick Steel, 30.03.2011
VAGA and Museums Sheffield among losers in national portfolio announcement
Arts Council England (ACE) today announced the long-awaited grant-in-aid allocations for its national portfolio of arts organisations from 2012.

In total, 51 current Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) from the visual arts sector had their applications rejected, including Museums Sheffield, which will no longer receive £68,000 for its contemporary arts programme.

A further 58 organisations suffered funding reductions, such as the New Art Gallery in Walsall, which faces a cut of 11%.

The axe fell hardest on organisations that do not directly support artistic output, such as audience development agencies. The Crafts Council had its budget cut by 15%, while the Visual Arts and Galleries Association (VAGA) will no longer receive any grant-in-aid.

A VAGA spokeswoman said: "We receive just over £100,000 a year and this is obviously a substantial part of our overall funding. We are having a board meeting next week to discuss our future and things will be clearer following that."

ACE chief executive Alan Davey would not comment on individual cases, but said: "We thought the national portfolio wasn't suitable for [these agencies]."

He added that such organisations could still apply for Grants for the Arts and other strategic funding intended to support organisational development and leadership in the sector.

But the strategic selection process meant some organisations will see their funding increased; East London's Whitechapel Gallery had its grant boosted by 15% to build on the success of its major refurbishment, while the newly renovated South London Gallery received a 107% rise.

Pending capital projects also received additional support, including Hepworth Wakefield, the Turner Contemporary in Margate and Firstsite in Colchester.

ACE has been forced to reduce its grant-in-aid funding by 15% over four years, after receiving an overall cut of 30% to its budget in last October's spending review. In real terms, this means ACE funding for arts organisations will fall by £450m by 2014.

ACE said it had chosen to cut strategically rather than imposing equal cuts for all in order support innovative projects and maintain a balance of arts programmes nationwide. ACE chair Liz Forgan said today: "We have taken the brave path of strategic choices not salami slices, which has meant some painful decisions."

To see the full list of national portfolio allocations, click here (Excel)

Update
30.03.2011, 14:53

Headline changed from 'ACE cuts 51 regularly funded organisations' to 'ACE cuts 51 regularly funded visual arts organisations'. A total of 206 regularly funded organisations will not be included in the national portfolio of arts organisations.

Comments