Arts chiefs furious over 4.6 per cent funding cut

The Government has reneged on its early commitment to the arts with a funding settlement which will destroy all the progress of recent years, cultural leaders said yesterday.

The Government has reneged on its early commitment to the arts with a funding settlement which will destroy all the progress of recent years, cultural leaders said yesterday.

They reacted angrily to funding that will see a 4.6 per cent cut in support for English Heritage, an allocation for museums and galleries which falls far short of previous demands and budgets frozen in the performing arts.

From heritage bodies, through theatre chiefs to museum directors, all expressed concern that the genuine progress of recent years would be stalled and potentially reversed by the deal. The arts are expected to have fared particularly badly when the settlements for sport, tourism and film are revealed in days to come.

John Sell, the chairman of a committee representing heritage bodies, said English Heritage's drop in funding showed the Government cared little for heritage. "This is a significant reduction in vital assistance to those who struggle to care for their buildings and the public benefit that brings," he said.

Michael Boyd, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said the Government had done more than most to support the arts, but had now changed its tune.

"Theatre is flourishing right across the UK, thanks in part to extra investment. But it's no good planting seedlings then depriving them of water," he said. " It's not just bad for audiences of the future. It's bad economics."

Ian McGarry, general secretary of the actors' union Equity, said it had believed the Government genuinely wanted to end "the bad old days of hand-to-mouth funding that barely kept theatre alive. Today's announcement means that they were empty promises. I am appalled at this breach of faith."

More disappointment was expressed by Christopher Frayling, chairman of the Arts Council, which had its revenue grant frozen.

This was a real-term cut of more than £30m by 2007 and would mean "stark choices" when it comes to giving funds to performing arts organisations and literature programmes in England in March. "It is extraordinary that the Government has chosen to undercut the very success it has helped to build since 1997. We're right back to stop-start funding, which we hoped we had left behind."

Regional museums expressed bitter disappointment after expectations that they would be a priority this time. They believed a programme,Renaissance in the Regions, had proved in three pilot areas what could be done with a modest investment to increase visitor numbers. But the extra cash announced yesterday - albeit a 108 per cent increase on the previous low investment - was not even enough to implement Renaissance nationwide.

Mark Taylor, director of the Museums' Association, said: "Any additional funding is obviously good news, but many people who care about museums will feel let down by this announcement. When the Government invests in museums, they deliver impressive results. So this settlement represents a real wasted opportunity."

The arts had been expecting a tough spending round but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's announcement yesterday had several measures to mitigate the disappointment.

Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, announced a 200 per cent increase in capital funding for the national museums and galleries and an additional £12m funding for English Heritage capital work.

This appeared to placate the national museum directors whose leader, Robert Crawford, said the deal was a "good start to our five-year campaign to transform the UK's museums".

The national museums and galleries are to get a real increase of 1.7 per cent revenue funding by 2007, which is about a tenth of what they said they needed when they began lobbying for extra funding.

David Verey, chairman of the National Art Collections Fund charity, said the "tiny" increase in real terms for running costs would stop national museums doing anything new while the regional museums would have to 'work miracles to keep going".

The London South Bank Centre in London is to get a grant of £5m to assist its regeneration as is the city of Liverpool towards its plans for the 2008 European capital of culture.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices Simon Usborne: It's not about political correctness. It's about decency
Sport
Wojciech Szczesny watches the ball cross the line as Garath McCleary scores for Reading
football All the latest from Wembley as Gunners face Reading in semi-final
Life and Style
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...