Written evidence submitted by the Local
Government Association (arts 215)
1. The Local Government Association is a
voluntary membership body and our 422 member authorities cover
every part of England and Wales. Together they represent over
50 million people and spend around £113 billion a year on
local services. They include county councils, metropolitan district
councils, English unitary authorities, London boroughs and shire
district councils, along with fire authorities, police authorities,
national park authorities and passenger transport authorities.
2. There are three key issues that must
be addressed in order to support the future flourishing of the
arts and heritage:
The public subsidy to arts and heritage
bodies must be better aligned with the priorities of local communities,
and these services must become more accountable to local people;
Councils and local partnerships must
be given the maximum flexibility to spend the public money they
have in a way that best supports their local area. The LGA is
working with government to develop a radical place-based approach
to public services that would cut through funding silos. This
model would provide opportunities for the arts and heritage to
access new funding streams;
The arts and heritage sectors must
work together to lead their own improvement and development. The
focus of this work should be to develop new governance and delivery
models that can adapt to reduced funding, and which open up the
arts and heritage in a way that makes them a cornerstone of the
3. Supporting the arts, culture and heritage
is a billion pound concern for local authorities in England.
In 2008-09 this investment supported a total of 1,099 theatres,
concert halls, arts centres and museums and galleries.
Councils also play a major facilitation role, helping to maintain
networks of people, groups and facilities, and in particular supporting
community and voluntary groups.
4. This underlines the fact that local government
remains, as it has always been, a vital part of the ecology of
the arts. From the Chester Mystery Plays, commissioned by the
town's mediaeval guilds, to Jeanie Finlay's digitised reflection
on Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror, commissioned by the council-supported
Nottingham Playhouse, local communities continue to make the best
use of their heritage and to foster the production of excellent
arts for and in their places, to make their places better.
5. The LGA has made an open and comprehensive
offer to the government about a great reform programme for public
services. The main idea of this reform, which we are currently
working with government to develop, is simple: radical decentralisation
is needed for a more affordable and effective state.
6. We believe the state must be reshaped
through place-based area budgets, rather than the present system
of ring-fenced departmental funding silos, which is coupled with
a target setting culture in Whitehall and competing and often
contradictory performance management regimes.
7. Parliament would remain the decision-making
body for how national tax revenues are spent, while decisions
on what public services are commissioned locallyand from
wherewould be made at the local level. In most cases, the
local body should be the council or an existing partnership of
councils. Its job would be to simplify the way public services
are run locally, to strip away duplication and waste, improve
effectiveness, and put local peoplenot bureaucratic interestsfirst.
8. Given the scale of the expected cuts
to public spending, it is only through such radical reform that
frontline public services, including the provision of cultural
services and facilities in the arts and heritage, can be protected.
9. More information on the LGA's work can
be found in Place Based Budgets: the future governance of public
services; which is available on our website, at http://new.lga.gov.uk/lga/aio/12294113
10. A place-based approach to funding public
services, in which the ring-fence is removed from many central
grants and the local governance body commissions services in response
to local need, would, we believe, present huge opportunities for
the arts and heritage, as well as for sports and other cultural
11. Cultural services budgets will need
to deliver efficiency savings, just like all local services. But
place-based budgets offer, at the same time, the chance for local
arts and heritage groups and in-house providers to get access
to more of the big block grants that councils and local partners
receive. On this model, there will be less distinction between
statutory and non-statutory spending.
12. The strategic commissioning of cultural
services by, for example, schools, social care services or mental
health trusts, is a key area of interest at the local and national
level. Local Government Improvement and Development (LGID), the
national cultural quangos, the professional bodies of the National
Culture Forum and the Chief Culture and Leisure Officers association,
have all been working to improve the capacity of local cultural
services to be strategically commissioned.
13. This work must lay the foundations for
a culture shift in local services to prepare for the coming reductions
in public funding. Councils will deliver less, but commission
more. So the capacity and capability of the arts and heritage
sectors to be strategically commissioned to deliver outcomes against
place-based funds, must continue to be built up.
Case Study: The LGID-led Culture and Sport
Improvement Programme, together with the National Culture Forum,
recently produced The role of culture and sport in supporting
adult social care to deliver better outcomes. This work shows
how the culture sector can provide a wealth of opportunities for
people to participate in interesting and engaging new activities,
tailored to local community interests and expectations. Such opportunities
are vital if people are to be encouraged to adopt the Foresight
Report's recommended "five-a-day" for a more productive
and fulfilling later life: Connect; Be Active; Be Curious;
Learn; and Give. You can find this publication at: http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=17379857
14. Drawing on the above case study, we
can see that funding for older people's health and wellbeing presents
an important potential revenue stream for cultural services. The
LGA wants to ensure that any public health budget that might be
given to councils as part of changes to primary care administration
is not ring-fenced. This will allow councils to commission locally
appropriate interventions to improve public health from a wide
range of delivery bodies, including arts and heritage groups.
Case study: The LGA also worked with the
Museums Libraries and Archives council to produce Building
Learning Communities, which explores the value of museums,
libraries and archives in supporting informal learning. These
local services play a key role in providing opportunities for
individuals to gain new skills, often through volunteering; to
access information, including support with job searching; and
to take part in local activities that can help to build their
self-confidence and make them more employable. You can find this
publication at: http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/publications/publication-display.do?id=8474587
15. Drawing on the above case study, we
can see that another future funding stream for arts and heritage
groups might come through Local Enterprise Partnerships' commissioning
of training and employment support programmes for the long-term
16. The LGA recently successfully lobbied
for the creation of a sector-led efficiency programme to help
councils work together to deliver public libraries more efficiently.
The Future Libraries programme, which was launched on 16 August
2010, will be delivered by the LGA Group in partnership with the
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. More information can
be found at http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/7381.aspx.
17. The programme promises to spread learning
between library authorities, to achieve cost savings, develop
new partnerships and governance models, and to take advantage
of digital opportunities.
18. We believe this council led programme
should be used as a model for the future improvement and development
of other cultural services.
19. For example, we would expect the learning
from the Kensington & Chelsea with Hammersmith and Fulham
project, which will explore the feasibility of sharing library
services delivered or commissioned jointly across borough borders,
to be relevant to authorities that are looking to share their
heritage protection services in order to make efficiency savings.
20. Similarly, over the last seven years
nearly £300 million has been spent by government to improve
the positioning and performance of local museums through the Renaissance
programme. The Future Libraries programme presents a model on
which better use could be made of these resources to assist museums
to make an even bigger contribution to their local communities
through place based budgeting. Councils taking over responsibility
for this programme will ensure greater efficiencies from more
targeted funding and less duplication.
21. We believe that local and national funding
bodies in the cultural sector could work more closely together,
and that this would help the total public subsidy for culture
go further and be delivered more efficiently. Closer priority
setting and performance management of funded arts and heritage
bodies is central to delivering these efficiencies.
22. For example, local authorities and the
Arts Council England (ACE) are the two principal public funders
of the arts in this country. Two-thirds of ACE funding goes to
their Regularly Funded Organisations; a total of £360 million
in 2008-09. Funding to the same organisations from councils and
local partners was £141 million over the same period; a ratio
of national to local investment in RFOs of 2.6:1.
23. If we look at investment in RFOs outside
London, with its cluster of national arts and heritage institutions,
the numbers move closer: ACE invests £177 million in the
eight English regions outside of London, with councils and local
partners investing £100 million; a ratio of national to local
investment of 1.8:1. In fact, local funding for RFOs is equivalent
to more than half of ACE funding to the same organisations in
six English regions.
In the East Midlands, ACE invests £23 million in RFOs with
local partners contributing £19 million, or 45% of the total
public investment in the arts.
24. It is somewhat disconcerting, therefore,
that the Arts Council's own Stakeholder Focus Research tells us
that, "Local authority partners are more negative about the
Arts Council's effectiveness in achieving its mission than others.
Indeed, opinion formers raised questions about how harmonious
the working relationship between the Arts Council and local authorities
is at times, and whether there is a sufficient sense of working
towards shared aims."
25. RFO funding is, of course, only one
part of the arts and heritage funding ecology; indeed, they account
for only 13% of the £1.117 billion that local government
invested in the arts, culture and heritage in 2008-09.
26. RFOs are, however, a key part of the
arts ecology, and these figures offer a useful case study to highlight
the current parallel funding regimes which, we believe, must increasingly
work more closely together if public investment in the arts is
to be delivered more efficiently in response to public spending
27. We know that local authorities are very
keen to look at a "total" or place-based approach to
cultural provision in their areas, and we call on government and
national quangos to support this work, in order to help protect
frontline arts and heritage provision by making public funding
28. We will continue to work with ACE to
improve this situation, but neither sector should underestimate
the scale of the challenge, or the potential benefits to the arts
and heritage of a more efficient approach to public investment
29. This submission has so far focused on
exchequer and local funding for the arts and heritage. It is worth
making specific mention about lottery funding separately.
30. Local authorities currently are a key
player in the lottery funding system, acting principally as recipients
and facilitators of bids. Councils play a convening role locally
to encourage and support bids, and a leadership role to focus
the efforts of local groups on those priority areas where additional
funding might best add value.
31. Drawing on our place-based funding model
outlined above, we are interested in a devolved approach to lottery
funding that would support the government's aims of building the
Big Society by bringing decision making in an area closer to local
people and supporting the growth of a strong and diverse voluntary
and community sector.
32. We believe that there is scope to increasingly
devolve decisions over the distribution of available lottery funds
to the local level. Coupled with other available funds from private
enterprise, existing community development organisations and local
and central government, the lottery could make a vital contribution
to creating a "community bank" in each locality. Such
an approach, we believe, would:
empower and involve local people
in community funding, and bring this investment more in line with
local needs and priorities;
increase the reach of investment
into the community;
support new models of investment
including mutuals, loans and asset transfer;
ensure a more efficient, cost-effective
and joined up approach to decision-making and administration of
funds, by bringing it together in one place;
increase transparency and reduce
barriers to access for funds by simplifying the system and placing
decision making within the local area; and
present a more efficient approach
to funding the voluntary and community sector by sharing services
and cutting through bureaucracy.
33. There are currently a plethora of systems
for funding arts and heritage projects in the UK; collectively,
these are complex, confusing and inefficient. Multiple funding
providers operate at local, regional and national level, each
with different processes, different priorities and different requirements
to access funding.
34. The web of funding providers causes
duplication and waste in the system and places decision making
with remote national distributors and providers, often focused
on nationally set priorities with no direct experience of the
challenges and work being undertaken at a local level. We believe
the current complex system also effectively "locks out"
small and inexperienced groups from accessing investment.
35. In comparison we propose a very simple
locally led approach that could lever in additional funding locally,
and that would lower the barrier to access funding, reduce back-office
costs and move decision making out of Whitehall and into local
communities. We believe this will increase the reach of investment
into arts and heritage and local communities, stimulate social
enterprise and promote greater transparency and accountability
over public funds.
64 £1.117 billion combined revenue and capital
spend by English local authorities in 2008-09. See Annex A8, Local
Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing (CLG, 2009). Back
See Culture, Sport and Recreation Statistics 2008-09 (CIPFA, 2009). Back
East of England; North East; North West; South East; South West;
and Yorkshire and Humber. Data from RFO statistics for 2008-09,
online at http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/regular-funding-organisations/annual-submission/regularly-funded-organisations-statistics-2008-09/ Back
See: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/media/uploads/arts_council_stakeholder_focus_research.pdf Back