Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Arts Council of England


  The landscape for artists and audiences in England has been transformed by the National Lottery. Every part of the country has benefited from Lottery investment. New arts facilities have been built and dilapidated ones have been refurbished. Lottery investment in the arts has played a pivotal role in a significant number of regeneration projects. Community arts organisations have received funds for essential equipment—such as instruments and vehicles. More drama, music, dance, visual art, literature and arts involving new media are now reaching more people, thanks to Lottery investment.

  Recent research conducted by MORI for the Arts Council revealed that there is widespread public support for the arts. 78 per cent of people believe the arts play a valuable role in the life of the country; 73 per cent believe there should be public funding for the arts and a remarkable 95 per cent believe children should have more experience of the arts at school. The extent of these favourable public attitudes can surely, in part, be attributed to the fact that over £1 billion of Lottery funds has been invested in the arts to date enabling many millions of people to experience the arts first-hand.

  This paper sets out the main achievements of Lottery funding for the arts over the past six years, and identifies some of the ways in which the Arts Council intends to use Lottery funds in future to further enhance the quality and diversity of the arts, and to make them accessible to even greater numbers of people.


Transformation and regeneration

During the early years of the National Lottery, the focus of arts funding was chiefly on major capital projects. The advent of the Lottery meant that years of under-investment in the capital infrastructure of the arts in England could at last begin to be addressed. New theatres, art centres, concert halls and galleries have opened, bringing the arts closer to communities across the country. Previously run-down venues in a poor state of repair have at last been able to refurbish and bring themselves up to 21st century standards, designed for contemporary, and ever more demanding, audiences.

  Lottery investment has played a key role in numerous regeneration projects, placing the arts at the heart of the revitalisation of previously derelict areas, and acting as a catalyst for investment from other private and public sector partners, including European funds.

Increasing access to the arts

  The arts are now more accessible to more people than they have ever been before. The Arts Council's Lottery investment has increased access in a number of ways. All capital projects have been required to meet high standards of access for disabled people. Funding has been targeted on excluded groups; for example, the 99 most deprived boroughs in England have received over 70 per cent of capital awards for the arts. Our recently launched new Arts Capital Programme has earmarked £20 million in the first tranche—almost a quarter of the available funds—for projects from Black, Asian and Chinese arts organisations.

Reaching out to all age groups

  We have invested £265 million in capital and community arts projects that are specifically for children and young people. We have also delegated £30 million of Lottery funds over three years to the National Foundation for Youth Music, whose remit is to give as many children and young people as possible the opportunity to experience and participate in music-making.

  200 capital arts projects that benefit older people have received £84 million from the Arts Council's Lottery fund.


  We believe that decisions on arts funding are best taken by those closest to the point of impact. As part of our policy of delegation to the 10 Regional Arts Boards we have given them full responsibility for Lottery awards for capital under £100,000. These smaller scale awards account for 75 per cent of the number of all arts Lottery capital awards. Through the Regional Arts Lottery Programme, 490 projects have been awarded nearly £12 million since July 1999. The programme supports projects that increase access to the arts, provide education through the arts, promote the production and distribution of the arts and support the long-term stability of arts organisations. A further £23 million per year has been allocated to the Regional Arts Lottery Programme.


  Lottery funds have enabled the Arts Council to support a much wider portfolio of arts activities than in the past. Historically under-subsidised arts such as the voluntary arts, jazz and street arts have received awards through a range of programmes.


  Through our Lottery-funded Stabilisation Programme, we are able to make significant investment in arts organisations that are burdened with long-term financial difficulties. For example, our orchestral strategy, announced in October 1999, made £10 million available to the regional orchestras. We are removing their deficits and providing funds to enable them to review their operations from every angle. Our aim is to ensure that our orchestras can develop and flourish in the 21st century from a sound financial base.


  The Arts Council announced its new three-year financial strategy in 1999. A key feature was the effective integration of our two funding streams—grant-in-aid and Lottery. As the national body for the arts in England we believe it is sensible to manage these two major sources of funding for the arts in an integrated way, in order to achieve a greater and more coherent impact for all the arts and for audiences. The orchestral strategy is an example of integration in practice. We have used Lottery funds from our Stabilisation Programme to clear long-term deficits and provide organisational development funds. Alongside this we have increased their annual subsidy to enable them to plan ahead with confidence.


  We are committed to cutting bureaucracy and red-tape across all our operations, whether Lottery or grant-in-aid. Our Chairman, Gerry Robinson, has stated unequivocally that he wants to get rid of "pointless form-filling" in order to free artists and arts organisations to do what they are primarily concerned with—making and showing the arts. This is a major target for the Arts Council and the Regional Arts Boards.

  There is no doubt that the Lottery has added to the paperwork in the arts funding system. The Lottery policy and financial directions rightly required a fully accountable process, to ensure Lottery funding was properly allocated and administered and continues to be used for the purposes intended. However, we have begun to introduce simpler processes, and to reduce the paperwork for applicants, especially for those applying for relatively small sums of money. We are determined to make further progress on this front. For example, our new Arts Capital Programme has been refined to two stages: a simple "expression of interest", followed, if successful, by admission to the programme. On admission the applicant receives full details of the sum that has been earmarked for the completion of their project and is actively supported to bring the project to successful fruition. Similarly, the Regional Arts Boards have taken a "less is more" approach to their Regional Arts Lottery Programme, and have sought to keep the process and the paperwork as simple as possible.


  As one of the six good causes, we take a pragmatic approach to collaborative working with the other Lottery distributors. We do so readily where that will deliver a better service to the public; or where there are efficiency savings, better service to applicants and a more effective use of available funds.

  For example, as a partner in the Awards for All programme we have channelled £5 million a year into local, small awards for artists and arts organisations. The merits of the programme lie in its simplicity and effectiveness in targeting funds at the truly small-scale and local arts activity.

  Together with Sport England, we are developing plans for the Capital Modernisation Fund, which will provide Lottery funds for sports and arts spaces in primary schools. This programme, announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport earlier this year, will make £130 million available to schools, and will provide spaces for children to develop their creative potential through drama, dance, music and other arts activities.


  The first six years of Lottery funding for the arts has provided substantial resources for local community arts and small-scale arts projects. The Arts Council has certainly been able to address some of the long-term capital needs of the arts sector. However, there is still a substantial un-met demand for capital arts projects—we estimate in the region of £2 billion of capital projects were unable to be funded through our first capital programme.

  Our new Arts Capital Programme provides £176 million over the next six years. Given the limited funds available, the programme will be targeted to specific areas of need, including Black, Asian and Chinese organisations; investment in parts of England where arts provision has been historically low, including areas of high deprivation; and projects that increase audience access and participation in the arts.

  We intend to increase the process of delegation to the Regional Arts Boards—so that they will manage all but the largest Lottery capital awards. Our participation in Awards for All will also continue, to ensure the smallest arts organisations can benefit from Lottery funds.

  We will continue to integrate the Lottery and grant-in-aid streams of funding to achieve a better outcome for artists and audiences. this approach is cost effective, efficient and ensures that investment in the arts ranges across all needs—from training and organisational development, to capital investment, to equipment and project costs.


  Lottery funding for the arts is no longer a luxurious extra—it is a vital component in the mix of resources supporting the vibrant and dynamic cultural life of this country. The Arts Council of England, together with our partners, the 10 Regional Arts Boards, is committed to ensuring that the highest quality arts—ranging from the traditional to the new and ground-breaking—are available to every man, woman and child in the country. The continuation of Lottery funding at, and ideally above, present levels, is crucial to this mission.

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Prepared 23 January 2001