Cultural institutions across the country have been "wiped off the map" by Arts Council England's funding cuts, announced yesterday. Regular funding to 206 arts organisations, from fringe theatres to poetry societies and renowned organisations in dance and art, has been axed.
Derby Theatre, London's Riverside Studios, Exeter Northcott Theatre and The Dartington Hall Trust – where the precursor to ACE was first conceived – are among those losing funding from April 2012. London's Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and Almeida Theatre are high-profile casualties, suffering annual funding cuts of around 40 per cent.
"I have no doubt there will be a great deal of discussion and argument over whether we have made the right decisions," said Arts Council chairwoman Dame Elizabeth Forgan. "We have always been open and transparent."
Of the 791 organisations which ACE previously regularly financed, 585 will continue to receive regular funding between 2012 and 2015. Around 1,300 arts organisations in total applied for funding under new terms imposed by ACE, after the Government cut its funding last year. ACE will also fund 110 new organisations.
Major arts organisations like the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera House and National Theatre were hit with reductions of around 15 per cent. The English National Opera had a smaller reduction of around 11 per cent, which an Arts Council spokesperson said was due to its business model being "still in development".
The Dartington Hall Trust lost its entire £600,000 funding for its wide-ranging performing arts schedule. Ironically it was here during the Second World War that the Arts Council was first conceived as the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts. It was incorporated under Royal Charter as the modern organisation in 1946.
"We were surprised to get nothing but Dartington has been running for 80 years, well before subsidies and as an organisation we have a mixed funding base," said the organisation's director of arts, David Francis. "It means that people who want to work here will have to bring some money with them."
Another surprise was the Theatre Royal Wakefield – which this month revealed it had recruited one of the country's most frequently performed playwrights, John Godber, to the venue. Executive director Murray Edwards said the decision to reject its application for £94,000 funding would impact on plans for a "resident season" of Godber's new work. Smaller arts organisations such as the Poetry Book Society, founded by TS Eliot in 1953 to provide poetry information, and music outreach organisation Asian Music Circuit, have also seen their funding completely pulled.
"The news goes beyond shocking and touches on the realms of the disgusting," said Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, discussing the Poetry Book Society's cuts. "This fatal cut is a national shame and a scandal and I urge everyone who cares about poetry to join the PBS as a matter of urgency."
"We have been told we have been wiped off the map which is a very difficult thing to accept," said Asian Music Circuit chief executive Viram Jasani. "We were actually set up at the Arts Council's behest in the 1980s, so this decision doesn't make any sense at all."
Who made the cuts?
Major funding decisions are made by a national Arts Council England (ACE) Council comprising 15 people. It includes the heads of local ACE authorities and various arts luminaries, including former Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) artistic director Ekow Eshun, who resigned from the ICA last year after the organisation fell into financial difficulty.
The ICA was dealt one of the harshest funding decisions in yesterday's settlement. ACE claims this is a coincidence.
Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler's Wells Theatre, which experienced a mild 5 per cent reduction in funds, is also on the council.
Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican, which has enjoyed an astronomical hike in funds of 109 per cent, also presides over decisions.
"Anyone who has had an involvement up to five years previously with any organisation has to step out of the room when it is being considered," said Moira Sinclair, executive director of ACE.
Also on the council is former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley and Alice Rawsthorn, design critic of the International Herald Tribune.
Keith Khan, head of culture for the 2012 Olympics and former chief executive of Rich Mix, which experienced huge cuts yesterday, also sits on the panel.
François Matarasso, a writer and consultant; Caroline Collier, director of Tate National; Anil Ruia, a trustee of National Museums, Liverpool; Janet Barnes, chief executive of York Museums Trust; Peter Phillips, chair of the ACE West Midlands; Peter Standfield, chair of ACE North-east; Jon Cook, chair of ACE East; Rosemary Squire, chief executive of Ambassador Theatre Group and Sheila Healy, chair of ACE South-west complete the panel.
Almeida: Celebrated north London venue. Michael Attenborough artistic director. Loss: 39 per cent
Riverside Trust Ltd: Former west London factory once an important centre of Britishfilmmaking. Loss: 100 per cent (£476,626)
Derby Theatre: University/council-run theatre, reopened in 2009. Loss: 100 per cent (£700,000)
Northern Ballet: One of country's busiest touring companies. Operates from £12m Leeds home. Loss: 14.9 per cent
Cholmondeleys & Featherstonehaughs:London-based dance company. Loss: 100 per cent (£337,230)
Henri Oguike: London-based contemporary dance company. Loss: 100 per cent (£190,684)
The Dartington Hall Trust: Performing arts centre established in 1920s at Totnes, Devon. Loss: 100 per cent (£600,000)
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: Islington-based orchestra. Guest conductorsinclude Sir Simon Rattle. Loss: 14.9 per cent
Asian Music Circuit: Founded by Arts Council in 1991. Leading promoter of Asian music in the UK. Loss: 100 per cent (£501,711)
Institute of Contemporary Arts: Central London arts centre. Hosted first UK show byPablo Picasso. Loss: 42.5 per cent
Museums Sheffield: Includes planned Millennium Gallery for new works by major local artists. Loss: 100 per cent (£68,000)
Castlefield Gallery: Contemporary art gallery founded in Manchester, 1984. Loss: 100 per cent (£91,813)
... and the big winners
Barbican Centre: Multi-purpose arts organisation in central London, praised by the Arts Council for its "real value for money" and creative partnerships with smaller arts organisations in east London. Increase: 108.7 per cent by 2014
Punchdrunk: Theatre company which has won plaudits for its innovative, immersive productions in unusual spaces. Increase: 141 per cent
Arcola: East London fringe theatre praised for its investment in new talent and school projects. Increase: 82 per cent
Southend-on-sea Borough Council: Increase: 34 per cent, rise from £70,000 to £194,500 for visual arts events.
Lincoln Arts Trust: East Midlands-based organisation which controls venues including Lincoln Drill Hall. Increase: 285 per cent rise to £216,000
- More about:
- Arts Council Of England
- Department For Culture
- Institute Of Contemporary Arts
- Media And Sport
- University Of The Arts London