Funding of the Arts and Heritage - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

1  Introduction

Our inquiry

1. On 14 September 2010 the Committee decided to launch an inquiry into funding of the arts and heritage. In doing so we were very much aware of the challenges facing arts and heritage organisations, including the impact of the recession and reductions in overall spending by central and local government. We were also aware that the results of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), due to be announced in October 2010, would be more than likely to detail further public spending cuts, including to arts and heritage.

2. We agreed terms of reference and invited evidence on the following issues:

  • What impact recent, and future, spending cuts from central and local Government will have on the arts and heritage at a national and local level;
  • What arts organisations can do to work more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort and to make economies of scale;
  • What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable;
  • Whether the current system, and structure, of funding distribution is the right one;
  • What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery funds will have on arts and heritage organisations;
  • Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed;
  • The impact of recent changes to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) arm's length bodies - in particular the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council;
  • Whether businesses and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level;
  • Whether there need to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations.

3. We held seven oral evidence sessions, and received a total of 238 written submissions. In November 2010 we visited arts organisations in Manchester and Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. In January 2011 we visited the Arts Council Collection in South London, and Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

4. Our inquiry spanned a number of significant announcements regarding changes to arts funding, which are listed in the table below:

26 July 2010Secretary of State announced review of DCMS' arm's length bodies; including abolition of UK Film Council and Museums Libraries and Archives Council;
14 September 2010inquiry into funding of the arts and heritage launched;
12 October 2010first oral evidence session held; witnesses included Alan Davey, Chief Executive of the Arts Council;
20 October 2010Government announced results of CSR, including 25% reduction in DCMS budget; DCMS announced 29.6% reduction in grant-in-aid to the Arts Council;
26 October 2010Arts Council announced across-the-board cut of 6.9% to all its Regularly Funded Organisations;
4 November 2010Arts Council announced launch of the National Portfolio funding programme;
24 January 2011closing date for applications to the Arts Council's National Portfolio;
25 January 2011final oral evidence session held with Alan Davey and Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of the Arts Council.

Arts and heritage

5. The arts and heritage landscape in the UK is rich and varied. This was reflected in the number and diversity of arts and heritage organisations which submitted written evidence to our inquiry. Almost all the submissions we received in relation to our inquiry stressed the importance of the arts and heritage in the cultural life of the country, and many stressed their importance in attracting tourism, stimulating regeneration, and the role they can play in education or health. For instance Arts Council England, in its submission, stated that, in its view, "support of the arts is crucial to our prosperity as a nation and the wellbeing of its citizens [...]",[1] and the Heritage Alliance told us that "heritage-led tourism alone generates a return four times as great as the whole DCMS budget and many, many times greater than central government expenditure on heritage".[2]

6. We were also mindful of how popular, successful and internationally admired the arts and heritage in the UK are. Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport summed up how he viewed the arts in his first keynote speech in May 2010:

    Britain has one of the most vibrant, extraordinary cultural sectors in the world. We win more Oscars than any country except America. We have more world-class museums and galleries than anywhere else in the world. We have a theatre scene that - in London alone - grosses more than half a billion pounds in box office receipts last year. We have - in the British Library - the largest and most comprehensive research collection in the world, hosting more than 150 million items from every era of written history, and our creative industries, that employ around 2 million people.[3]

7. The cultural and economic benefits of the arts and heritage are many, but how they should be funded has been an ongoing source of debate. The arts and heritage sectors are not inherently subsidised industries - a number of individual artists, organisations, and heritage owners do not receive any public money; however many do receive some public subsidy. It is the level and administration of this public subsidy that is often in debate, and, at a time of recession and public spending cuts, never more so than now.

1   Ev 154 Back

2   Ev 149 Back

3   Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, keynote speech at London Roundhouse, 19 May 2010 Back

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Prepared 28 March 2011