Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Derbyshire County Council (arts 02)

· Derbyshire County Council sees the arts as being e ssential to our quality of life, and a vital aspect of local authority provision. Arts in the UK , including those in Derbyshire, are an international success story; this is, at least in part, thanks to sustained investment over a number of years.

· Continued support of the arts will allow them to play a vital role in Britain 's economic recovery. The creative industries are the fastest growing economic sector in Derbyshire, and public support at vital stages in the life of a company has proven to be hugely successful in helping the sector. Artists and emerging creative businesses often rely on public funding in the early years, for training, professional development and business development; but this leads on to economic growth in the long term. It is essential that cuts to art s investment now do not block that pathway for future artistic excellence.

· The arts are also central to a government that places a healthy society at the heart of its agenda, having proven benefits to both mental and physical health and well-being, and providing civic pride and many opportunities for volunteering.

· It should be noted that the arts budget is tiny, and t he return on investment is huge; Derbyshire County Council spending on arts development, for instance, returns nearly £8 for every £1 invested . Any cuts to the arts will have a disproportionate effect for a relatively tiny saving to the public purse.

1. What impact will recent, and future, spending cuts from central and local Government have on the arts and heritage at a national and local level

1.1 There needs to be a careful assessment of the effects of the cuts on different parts of the country, both geographically and economically. Rural areas already suffer from a lack of cultural services, and both national and local government intervention is essential in maintaining such services. The free market does not naturally serve rural areas, as venues are often too small to be economically viable. Rural touring of performing arts, for instance, is an essential service in these areas, provides good value for money (compared with subsidy of theatres in city centres), helps with social cohesion, overcomes isolation for both young and old, and provides a focus for local communities.

1.2 Local government also supports a number of small, community-led arts organisations, such as arts festivals, which contribute much to the vibrancy and quality of life in rural areas, and will need continued financial support.

1.3 It is important for government to take into account the effect of both central government cuts to arts and heritage funding AND cuts to local government spending. Many arts organisations depend on funding from Arts Council, top tier and second tier local government, and are facing funding cuts from all three.

1.4 Government should also take account of the fact that many arts organisations depend on charitable trust funds for grants, and this funding stream is also reducing, because of low interest rates and poor stock market rates.

2. What arts organisations can do to work more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort and to make economies of scale

2.1 The arts organisations in Derbyshire do not overlap in functions; largely, they serve different geographical areas or different groups of people. However, it may be possible for some of them to share administrative costs; this is being investigated currently, but would be a small saving, probably just a few hundred pounds.

3. What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable

3.1 In order to ensure a high quality level of arts provision in rural areas, some level of public subsidy is essential; typically, income from participants is less than 25% of the overall budget. Most of the organisations in Derbyshire receiving public funding are those which service rural or deprived communities, where private sponsorship is not available, the beneficiaries are not able to pay the full cost of the activities and there is little commercial artistic activity outside individual private creative industries.

4. 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

4.1 Derbyshire County Council welcomes the proposal to return National Lottery allocations to their original proportions. This will help support artistic endeavour in the county, but will not make up for reductions to Arts Council, as this is longer term, non-project based funding.

5. The impact of recent changes to DCMS arm’s-length bodies - in particular the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

5.1 Regional film agencies provide much needed support to local film makers and film distributors, but the cuts to both RDAs and the UK Film Council will mean the end of regional film agencies, unless their funding is channelled in a different way. However, the distribution of Lottery funding for film through at least 4 different agencies (UK Film Council, regional film agencies (EM Media in the East Midlands), MediaBox and First Light) must surely be wasteful, and could be channelled through one body. Arts Council England used to distribute Lottery funding for film, and perhaps could take this on in the future.

6. 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

6.1 This is long-term strategy, as it will take a significant shift in thinking to achieve. However, it is a positive way forward for some arts organisations. It is more likely to help large organisations, or those serving a "popular" cause. Many arts organisations work with the least likeable sections of our community, and are unlikely to attract much philanthropic giving.

6.2 Government incentives to encourage private donations would be very welcome, so long as the system is simple and easy to use.

August 2010