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Alexandra Albert

W(h)ither UK arts?

Authors: Alexandra Albert Alexandra Albert

30 March 2011

With the House of Commons’ Select Committee report on funding of the arts and heritage published on Monday and the committee meeting and announcements of ACE arts funding this morning (Wednesday 27 March), there is real opportunity to reshape the arts funding environment and to set out a clearer role for government in supporting the arts.

 As a result of the Arts Council England (ACE) announcements this morning there are celebrations and commiserations to be made across the board. 110 new Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) will be welcomed into the portfolio, whilst the grant in aid budget is reduced by 15% in the context of wider public sector cuts. Many of the major London institutions are taking a cut of 11-15%, although one interesting winner that jumps out is the Barbican which will receive an increase in funding of 108.7% over three years.
However, having traditionally relied on a grant-based model in this country, what is really needed here is an assessment of funding models for the arts in the UK. It is vital that we have a constructive debate about the arts and creativity, looking to new models and the role of the Arts Council within that as a leader of the debate. It will also be interesting to see how the role of the new Creative Industries Council develops in relation to ACE.

The select committee report is more of a review of recent policy decisions, rather than anything more far-reaching, which is a disappointment, considering this was a potential opportunity to set out a broader framework for government investment in the arts.

And the broader question still remains: Should this country focus on public investment to drive private innovation and private giving or should the government merely focus on minimising its expenditure if and where it can?

The Creative Industries team is currently working on a paper exploring valuation models in the UK creative industries due to be published in early May.