Regional arts left with London’s crumbs as spending cuts bite, warns Harriet Harman

Culture Secretary warned that funding disparity will drive theatres and museums to the wall

The extent of the funding crisis facing regional arts organisations has been revealed in new figures that show how London still receives the lion’s share of Arts Council grants and philanthropic donations.

Harriet Harman, the shadow Culture Secretary, will warn today that many provincial museums, theatres and arts groups could go under, hit by local authority spending cuts necessitated by a 10 per cent reduction to council budgets announced in last week’s Spending Review, as she urges the Culture Secretary to produce a “survival strategy” for arts in the regions.

“These organisations can be quick to disappear. But they take a very long time to build up,” she told The Independent ahead of her speech. “At a time of Arts Council cuts and local government cuts, you have to look at keeping these organisations afloat.”

Figures obtained from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport through a written parliamentary question reveal that more than two-thirds of philanthropic donations to cultural organisations in England went to London in 2010-11.

The money given to the capital hit £488.3m during that period, out of a national total of £685.6m. This works out at £59.52 per head of population. The next highest proportion of donations per head was in the North-east at £4.66 and the South-east at £3.28. The lowest was the Midlands at £1.83 per head of population.

Ms Harman described the figures as “very stark”, and called on Maria Miller to offer incentives for philanthropists to target the regions, pointing to similar strategies elsewhere in Europe.

Separate figures reveal a similar, if less extreme, story regarding Arts Council spending. They show that while the body spends £1.59 per head on arts organisations in the South-east, it spends £21.33 in London. The next closest is the West Midlands, at £8.22 per head.

In her speech at a youth arts hub in Bristol today, Ms Harman will say that the Government “should be doing more” for the regions – claiming the Culture Secretary’s “field of vision is well within the M25”.

Newcastle Council is to cut its arts budget by 50 per cent, while others planning to cut cultural funding include Manchester, Sheffield and Bradford.

Richard Mantle, the general director of Opera North, said: “Clearly the majority of money will go to London. It is a great centre of the arts and culture. But we must remember the excellent work done outside. It has to be supported… We are living in uncomfortable times. Some organisations will not be able to continue in their current form or at all.”

Last month, the Science Museum Group revealed that it may be forced to shut one of its regional museums in response to funding cuts, while the Brewhouse Theatre in Taunton went into administration in February. Many more fear for the future.

As if to underline the disparity in philanthropy, it emerged that the family foundation of the international shipping magnate Eyal Ofer has donated £10m to Tate Modern to help fund its development.

This means the £215m development, which will provide more gallery space, is now 85 per cent funded. The exhibition galleries on Level 3 East will be named the Eyal Ofer Galleries following the donation.

Top centres: Best of the regions

Opera North, Leeds

Established in 1977, the company started as an offshoot of the National Opera, but the ties were cut four years later. It won an ‘Achievement in Opera’ award at last year’s Theatre Awards.

Manchester Art Gallery

The gallery, which opened in 1824, has a collection of almost 13,000 pieces. It has also staged many exhibitions of leading British artists – such as Anish Kapoor in 2011.

Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

It hosts the World Snooker Championship as well as theatrical performances. Its parent, Sheffield Theatres, was honoured in this year’s The Stage 100 Awards.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk