ANOTHER VIEW : Art for all our sakes

Related Topics
William Waldegrave, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is reportedly trying to renege on a promise that money from the National Lottery will never replace existing government arts funding. It appears that he wants to replace such grants with endowments to major arts institutions. A leaked letter indicates that the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Virginia Bottomley is resisting this move.

Mrs Bottomley is right to take issue with the Treasury to ensure that lottery money is not used as a substitute for current government responsibilities. Government should be engaged in the arts (even at arm's length) and be committed to the notion of supporting the country's arts and culture. This commitment should be for their intrinsic value and also for the contribution they make to the country's health and vitality, and indeed its whole economy.

Mrs Bottomley said that the idea of using endowments to fund arts organisations was "not a runner", and I agree totally. Endowments give such poor value: in order to fund the current Arts Council portfolio, well over pounds 2.25bn, at a cautious estimate, would have to be invested - vastly more than the arts are likely to receive from this lottery even by the year 2000.

That estimate covers only those professional arts organisations currently funded by the council. Lottery funds are currently open to all organisations that need capital investment for arts activities, be they professional or amateur, large or small. It is vitally important that it should continue to be open to all arts organisations, and not only the selected few that currently receive government subsidy.

Endowments can hold no solution to the questions surrounding the funding of the arts. So far the council has given pounds 130m from the lottery funds to 265 organisations. This money is for projects ranging from playground sculptures for a primary school to a full-length feature film, from a new bus for a touring theatre company to a major renovation of an important London theatre. It is gradually making a real difference to communities all over the country. The money is active: it is generating other income from local authorities, business sponsorship and private donations and creating work not only in the arts, but also throughout the design and construction industries.

The Prime Minister made the promise last year that lottery funding would not replace existing government spending. The Government must stick to this promise and give the arts a well-earned chance to benefit from this new money, and give the people of this country the arts they deserve and are so good at making - a bequest for the generations of the next millennium.

The writer is chairman of the Arts Council of England.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page


In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine