Peter Hewitt: We did not take this decision lightly

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The Independent Online

This week, all 990 regularly funded organisations received a letter from the Arts Council telling them our proposals for their funding beyond 31 March 2008. It wouldn't be appropriate to talk about the funding proposals for individual organisations here, but I do want to set the context for our plans and share some of our thinking and some headline figures.

For the vast majority 746 organisations or 75 per cent it was good news. They will receive an increase in funding of at least inflation (2.7 per cent). The news was even better for 211 of those 746 groups who can expect increases above inflation.

But in order to do this we have had to take some tough decisions 194 organisations have been told that we do not intend to renew their funding. In some cases we are proposing simply to withdraw funding while in other cases we are allocating money differently to achieve the same aims.

Choosing not to fund an organisation is a very difficult decision and one we do not take lightly. Sometimes this is on the grounds of their performance to date and sometimes because we believe the money can be used more effectively elsewhere. All of those organisations will have the opportunity to respond formally before we make our final decisions towards the end of January.

Supporting artistic excellence is a real priority.

Yes, some arts organisations will be unhappy with our decisions but the majority will have a stronger, better future. And we believe that as a result, in three years' time, the arts in England will be of even higher quality, and accessible to even more people, than they are now.

Peter Hewitt is the chief executive of Arts Council England

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