Funds slashed for hundreds of arts groups

Robert de,Pa
Wednesday 30 March 2011 17:35 BST
Around 1,300 theatres, galleries and arts groups applied for funding under the new regime imposed after the government spending review cut ACE's annual grant
Around 1,300 theatres, galleries and arts groups applied for funding under the new regime imposed after the government spending review cut ACE's annual grant (LAURIE LEWIS)

Hundreds of theatres, galleries and other organisations are to lose some, or all, of their public funding because of Government spending cuts.

The Government has told Arts Council England (ACE) to cut 15% from what it gives out to arts groups by 2015, leaving it with just under £1 billion to distribute.

Unveiling its spending plans for 2012 to 2015, ACE revealed that 1,333 groups had applied for funding with just 695 being given grants for three years from 2012. This includes 110 groups not previously funded by ACE and is fewer than the 849 organisations funded under the old regime.

More than 300 groups who previously received funding face a cut in real terms to their grants.

ACE chair Dame Liz Forgan said: "This is about a resilient future for the arts in England. We have taken the brave path of strategic choices, not salami slices, which has meant some painful decisions. And it is with great regret that we have to cease funding some good organisations."

One of the biggest losers was the Institute of Contemporary Arts in central London which faces a cut of 42.5%.

ACE chief executive Alan Davey said the group, which will receive £900,000 a year under the new settlement, was still getting "a good amount of money".

He insisted: "It's an amount of money with which they can do some significant work."

Eight of the nine groups which received the most funding under the old regime will have their grants cut.

Mr Davey said large organisations had to act as "good citizens", adding: "It could be helping smaller organisations with fundraising, spreading the expertise and knowledge in those organisations."

Another loser was Derby Theatre. It asked for an annual grant of £726,000 for the next three years but was refused, although ACE set aside almost £1 million over three years to support theatre in the city.

The Ludus Dance company in Lancaster will lose two thirds of its £300,000 funding by 2014-15.

Among the organisations that did well was South London Gallery in Camberwell. Its grant of £346,752 in 2011-12 will more than double to £846,752 in 2014-15.

Other big winners include Ilkley Literature Festival in Yorkshire which saw its 2011-12 funding of £48,066 treble to £143,409 for 2014-15 and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art whose annual funding will rise from £185,280 in 2011-12 to more than £500,000 by 2014-15.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "While this is obviously a difficult day for many arts organisations, the Government has limited cuts to frontline arts organisations and at the same time increased significantly the amount of Lottery money going to the arts.

"This means that the Arts Council's overall annual budget will reduce by £20 million (11.8%) by April 2015, putting it in a much better position than many other parts of the public sector.

"The UK has some of the best culture in the world and we are doing all we can to support it through the challenges of dealing with the deficit, including measures to boost the amount of private giving going to the arts."

ACE will receive an increase in lottery money from £149 million in 2010-11 to £223 million in 2014-15 but faces restrictions, set down when the lottery was created, on how it can be used.

Lottery funds of £18 million will be spent to support touring groups and around £10 million will be spent on education projects.

Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis said the cuts will have a "chilling impact" and said some organisations will have to close and others will have to increase ticket prices.

Tom Morris, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic theatre, said the arts council had been "set a riddle to which there is no fair solution".

He said: "Arts Council England has been asked to make big cuts and to be progressive too. There is no way to make this scale of cut without making horrible and unpopular decisions."

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