Many in the arts world were delighted and relieved as the sector escaped the severe funding cuts some had predicted. But with cuts looming for local authorities, fears remain over the future of arts organisations outside London.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will see a 20 per cent cut to its core administrative budget, equivalent to about 5 per cent of its overall budget or £1.1bn. However, Chancellor George Osborne said he would be “increasing the cash that will go to the Arts Council, our national museums and galleries”.
It is understood that the Arts Council will receive a cash increase of about £10m each year to 2019/20 – in real terms a budget decrease of 5 per cent over the period.
Sir Peter Bazalgette, the Chair of Arts Council England, said the Autumn Statement offered an “astonishing settlement for arts and culture”, adding that the strong case made by the sector to Government had paid off.
Former Barbican chief Sir John Tusa said a 5 per cent cut overall was a victory, “as some had expected cuts of up to 20 per cent”. Sir John praised Mr Osborne as a “Chancellor for the arts” and “the only member of the Government who understands arts and culture”. Deep cuts to DCMS were a “false economy,” Mr Osborne said in his statement, as “£1bn a year in grants adds a quarter of a trillion pounds to our economy; not a bad return”.
Colin Tweedy, the former head of charity Arts & Business, said: “Many in the arts will be mightily relieved. The Chancellor is a strong believer in the value of the arts.”
Actor and arts campaigner Samuel West gave “tentative cheers,” saying: “It looks like the Chancellor has listened.”
Mr Osborne pledged further support for institutions outside of London, including The Factory, a new venue in Manchester. The Factory will be among the beneficiaries of the government’s £1.6bn capital investment earmarked for the arts by 2020/21.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said he welcomed the funding statement but feared for smaller regional arts institutions.
“Today’s statement is just the beginning, as it is the forthcoming local authority settlements that will determine the fate of the majority of the UK’s museums and galleries – the hundreds of institutions across the country that are already under-resourced and vulnerable,” he said.
The Government revealed it will sell Blythe House – a listed Kensington property used as a store and archive by the Victoria and Albert, Science and British Museums – and provide the museums with £150m in additional funding to rehouse the 2 million objects held in storage at the house.
It will also consider introducing a tax relief for museums and galleries to encourage them to take exhibitions on tour.
UK Sport was given a 29 per cent funding increase in the review, with Mr Osborne saying he hoped it would help Britain “go for gold” at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics.Reuse content