Davey: MLA funding envelope will prove 'challenging'

Geraldine Kendall, 26.01.2011
ACE chief outlines transition plan in letter to MA

Alan Davey, the chief executive of Arts Council England (ACE), has written to the MA outlining plans for the transition of functions from the disbanded Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

In the December 2010 letter, which the MA can now publish, Davey confirmed that MLA functions to be taken on by ACE would include the Renaissance programme, accreditation, museum development and cultural property issues.  

The ACE chief emphasised that museums would be given equal status to the Arts Council’s other areas of responsibility and that the organisation would ensure a proper balance of staff to manage the museum agenda. But he admitted that the funding envelope for MLA functions was “challenging to say the least”.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has ring-fenced £43.4m of the budget for the Renaissance programme in 2012, leaving £2.6m to cover other MLA functions – a drop of over £10m on the previous year.

Davey said he would welcome ongoing input from the MA on how best to invest in non-Renaissance areas of responsibility.

He also disclosed plans to re-examine Renaissance funding so that the scheme would be integrated effectively into the Arts Council’s overall investment strategy.

The MA’s director Mark Taylor said: “So far I have been impressed by the Arts Council’s willingness to listen and determination to understand all the issues. They are also not prepared to rush decisions about Renaissance and plan to have a consultation next spring.

“We have already had a number of meetings with them and they have shown that they want to make sure their museum work fits as well as possible with their other work in terms of strategy and operations.”

Taylor added: “The problem is that they have got a very small amount of money to do anything but Renaissance.”

To read Davey's letter in full, click here

Culture Media and Sport select committee hearing

Speaking at the Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing yesterday, Alan Davey and ACE chairwoman Liz Forgan told MPs that all of the 850 organisations currently funded by ACE were in danger of losing their funding.

All organisations have to apply for the next round of funding, and an ACE spokeswoman confirmed that of some 1,300 applications it was likely that around 600 would be unsuccessful.

ACE will announce the allocations on 30 March.

Collections review

ACE is currently reviewing its art collections, consisting of some 7,500 pieces including works by Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst. The Arts Council is considering selling some of its pieces in order to acquire other works, said Forgan.

The review will also cover the British Council collections and government collections. A DCMS spokesman said the department was not considering sale of any pieces from the government collections. The main aim of the review, he said, was to explore the potential for efficiencies, cost-savings and enhanced public benefit.

The review is likely to be completed by the summer.