View of Tate Modern from the Millennium Bridge in London

Regions lose out to London in ACE funding

Gareth Harris, 31.10.2013
Report finds that London gets lion's share of money
An independent report published today has criticised disparities in public funding for the arts in England, with research revealing “the extent of bias” towards London.

Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital
was produced by three senior arts professionals, Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon and David Powell, and covers Arts Council England (ACE) funding levels for organisations outside London from 1980 to today.

It states 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.

“These findings reflect the experiences of regional museums outside the magic circle of London. We should not accept the myth that money for London is money for the UK,” said David Anderson, the director general of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and president of the Museums Association.

He added that it was shocking that this kind of research had not been done previously by the sector.

The authors also highlight that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport provided £447m in funding in 2012/13 for 16 national cultural institutions. Of this, an estimated £46m was committed to organisations outside London, leaving £401m in the capital.

The report says that if ACE lottery funds were distributed across the country on a broadly per capita basis this would produce a "fair share" for the country outside London of £296m per annum (assuming ACE receives £350m in lottery funding per annum for the next five years).


Should ACE funding be distributed per head of population?

ACE said in a statement that it did not recognise the figure of £350m, adding: “Over the last three years more than 70% of our lottery investment has funded projects outside of London, or on projects which benefit the whole country.”
Alan Davey, the chief executive of ACE, said: “There is more to do. We are about to go into an investment process for the next three years where we will target our money intelligently across England.”  

The authors say they have received no funding for the research, and have offered to attend regional meetings of the What Next? network to continue the debate.


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MA Member
04.11.2013, 09:42
The worst of it is that the arts in London also find it much easier to attract philanthrophy so are less in need to lottery and government funding than those of us under seige in regional museums.
01.11.2013, 11:18
We badly need research that addresses the distribution of resources given to the arts in the UK. But while this research highlights a stark inequality between London and the rest of the UK, the lower social economic half (49%) of the population both in London and the regions, has only made up around 10% of the national's UK audiences. This has remained largely unchanged since free entry was introduced.

Now that 'community' programmes have all but disappeared, it is clearer than ever that museums and galleries are for the better off half of the country. But is this really a priority for public funding? Well, yes if we are talking sales in the shop and café, but surely public and HLF funding has a different, wider public service role? Can free entry for the affluent continue to be justified?