'Cultural shift' is needed to fund the arts, says Hunt

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Indy Politics

Wealthy donors are needed to help plug gaps in arts funding, Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, has said as he announced budget reductions as part of public spending cuts.

In his first speech since taking office, Mr Hunt called for a "cultural shift" towards increased donations to arts organisations – which currently only form three per cent of all charitable giving in the UK.

He also outlined plans to boost philanthropic giving to the arts through a shake-up of Gift Aid tax relief. "I believe we can do much more to strengthen philanthropy in the cultural sector," said Mr Hunt. "Where it can work I want it to work as well as possible. I particularly want to help smaller organisations to help themselves."

Mr Hunt confirmed that Department for Culture, Media and Sport grants for arts organisations will face cuts during the current financial year, although the precise figures were still being negotiated in Cabinet. But he confirmed that free admission to national museums and galleries would continue, saying ensuring access to high quality arts for as many people as possible would underpin future policy.

Last week, Mr Hunt warned the £9.3bn budget for the 2012 Olympics was not immune to cuts, saying his department may have to find £66m of savings within the current financial year. He promised culture would not be seen as a "soft target" and the Government would be "open, fair and as quick as possible in letting people know what their funding will be".

Mr Hunt said cutting red tape would be a priority and bodies like the Arts Council should spend no more than five per cent of their budgets on administration. He said: "I think we're going to have to accept that all budgets are going to be affected, big budgets and small budgets."

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