Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by APRS (arts 07)

The following is in response to a request from the Select Committee to give consideration to specific questions it has posed.

Our response follows the order of the issues mooted reflecting upon;

· the pro-audio sector’s expectations in continued recession;

· the need to maintain proper funding for non-commercial arts bodies;

· the need for continued core national and local funding for the arts;

· the importance of instigating a review into distribution of arts funds;

· re-establishing the Lottery as a community bonus rather than a public spending top-up;

· including more grass-roots volunteers into the Lottery distribution systems;

· the dangers of falling for precipitate action regarding the Film Council;

· ways to encourage the development of a philanthropic culture and

· ways to provide for donor incentives and a broad base for contribution.

Prepared by Peter Filleul, Executive Director


The APRS is a national body that represents manufacturers and service providing business and individuals in the professional audio sectors. Our membership covers the principal music recording studios, manufacturers of professional and ‘prosumer’ studio equipment, Film and TV audio post-production studios, professional audio practitioners and the accreditation of HE and FE courses in sound technology and allied qualifications.

We were founded in 1947, our current President is Sir George Martin, CBE and our founding Patron is the Earl of Harewood.

1) 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;

1.1 As suppliers of goods and services to the music, broadcast and film industries, APRS members are often the first to feel the impact of tightened belts and reduced commitment to new investment. Recent financial developments offer few surprises to an industry that has been responding to cultural and technological changes for the last decade but the advent of a climate universal recession, as exemplified by the promised public sector cuts and reductions casts an even darker cloud and slows whatever faltering momentum the service industries have been striving toward.

1.2 Service and facility providers to the entertainment industries will suffer the knock-on effect of reduced production activity which has already dealt many terminal blows closing a large number of music and post-production recording studios but the manufacturers and suppliers who have grasped the new technological opportunities have often thrived.

1.3 In truth, all these business adjustments will have much less of an impact on the ‘arts and heritage’ of the nation than they may on the current businesses, infrastructures and entrepreneurial expectations that orbit them. There may be different winners and losers but ‘the arts and heritage’ will always survive and usually grow in times of financial stress be it out of creative ingenuity or by virtue of fulfilling an increased need for distraction.

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 creative and especially the music community is very fragmented. Trade Associations have historically played a pivotal role in the relationship between the parties be they representing commercial endeavours, not-for-profit, amateur or charitable aims or those involved in education and training. There are quite a number of trade organisations that represent both corporate stakeholders and individual practitioners and there have always been passing enthusiasms for collaboration, strategic alliance or even mergers. However, despite the convergence of technologies and skills in the entertainment sectors, there has been a reluctance for established representative organisations with specialised horizons to forgo their identities or abandon their memberships to be subsumed in rival bodies.

2.2 In the case of umbrella bodies that bring together whole sectors of industry, the copyright music sector has relatively recently established UK Music as a single policy and lobbying vehicle for their concerns. This has left the service and manufacturing sector out of the ‘copyright’ loop and bundled with the not-for-profit sector umbrella body, The National Music Council. The NMC is in the process of re-positioning itself as a conduit to and from the commercial sector and a voice for organisations that are close to grass-roots music making. The NMC’s undertakings were formally supported by the commercial sector but its new more narrowly focussed agenda has diverted energy and resources away for the NMC’s goals. The NMC may require some measure of subvention from the commercial sector if it is to continue its role as a bridge between music making and music selling.

2.3 Many arts bodies that rely upon ‘volunteers’ and eek out their programmes on limited and reducing resources have been feeling the stress and strain of declining membership caused by reduced corporate employment and the perennially uncertainties of working freelance. Membership organisations for individual practitioners, in addition to subscriptions, rely to a considerable extent upon support from corporate sponsorship and sustaining member arrangements for their income. They have tended to provide representation for practitioners who have acquired niche skills many of which are software based and are becoming de-specialised.

2.4 Consolidation may be difficult but there is still hope for increasing levels of cooperation and there is recognition of a convergence of the interests of these niche groups. Moves to create an umbrella body to provide a single voice for professional audio practitioners benefiting from the advantages of much larger critical mass without threatening the sovereignty of existing organisations, are taking shape, cautiously.

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

3.1 The balance between public subsidy and private support is a tender subject made more sensitive by political persuasions and reactions. The ‘arts’ may seem an easy target for cuts in support especially being a sector that produces subjective, unquantifiable and often ‘un-monetised outcomes’. However, insisting that business values provide the defining measure of cultural success can only strangle the creativity upon which innovation relies. Just like the space exploration programme produced spin-off inventions and new theatres of science that otherwise would not have developed, creativity, as expressed in every artistic or creative endeavour, generates countless fresh springs of invention, ideas, philosophies and imagination that feeds our ever-growing sense of culture, heritage and spiritual well-being.

3.2 Core support funding is essential throughout the arts, especially support for local activities, venues, arts centres, galleries and craft centres that form the skeleton upon which the flesh of grass-roots creative aspiration can flourish. Locally informed resources and volunteers should play a larger part in allocating national and municipal funding,

3.3 Notwithstanding the desire for generous funding, constraints breed innovation and can be responsible for uncovering commitment and energy that otherwise might remain unruffled. Necessity is often accused of being the `mother of invention’ and it is certainly true in music, as with all the lyrical and performance arts. Sadly, complacency born in the ‘good times’ so often sustains creative inertia and promotes stagnancy whereas harder times tend to stimulate talent to produce inventive solutions and dynamic expressions driven by a need to counter hardship, injustice and struggle.

3.4 Whilst it might be expected that these representations would come down on the side of enhanced, maximised support, we must acknowledge the truth in the adage that ‘talent will ‘out’.

4) Whether the current system, and structure, of funding distribution is the right one;

4.1 It might be argued a centralized, single body, arts administration structure most likely shows the lowest levels of duplication and is inherently more efficient and cost-effective than any de-centralized system could. However, the national arts bodies that handle funding in the devolved authorities have proved inconsistent and have a natural tendency toward creative autocracy and administrative paralysis. These unattractive traits combine to encourage an impression of either unimaginative resort to the ‘status quo’ or ill-considered investment in politically-correct but artistically indulgent new works.

4.2 Top down decision-making on funding will always suffer such criticism and so it may be time to explore a more ‘localised’ and focused approach. Indeed, the use of existing non-statutory bodies (such as trade and professional associations) to administer funding and programme priorities could offer direct industry experience. Exploiting established communication networks would avoid the duplication of administration necessitated by building ‘quango’ type infrastructures. Similar advantages would accrue to skills training if industry based trade bodies were to be funded to support their existing programmes rather than diverting funds to establish and maintain unfocussed sector based self-fulfilling hierarchies.

5) What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery funds will have on arts and heritage organisations;

5.1 The proposed re-balancing of National Lottery allocations over two years in favour of Sport, Heritage and the Arts conforms with the ambition to adopt a more localized approach to Arts funding overall. It is acknowledged that orchestrating such a shift would bring funding distributions closer to the original intention of the Lottery and that whilst some of the so called ‘good causes’ supported by the Big Lottery Funding pot have developed so as to substitute for state funding from other sources, the effect of the overall changes will be to de-politicise what was supposed be a community based bonus rather than a windfall top-up to replace public spending.

Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be


6.1 Certainly, the processes and guidelines under which the ‘Cultural’ sector’s Lottery funding should be reviewed given the proposed increase in allocation and re-focusing of distribution priorities.

6.2 The bodies that allocate grants might themselves benefit from a governance structure that comprises a greater proportion of honourary volunteers representing recognized interests and including grass-roots personnel.

6.3 Allowing an expectation to develop whereby public sector shortfalls are replenished by Lottery funding would create an unhelpful precedent; the temptation to provide funding that substitutes for reductions in public spending should, in the main, be avoided.

7) 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;

7.1 The perfunctory abolition of the Film Council will have a disastrous effect on the technology based film service industries for which the UK has enjoyed an unmatched international reputation for over 20 years.

7.2 High value overseas film and TV productions need to be persuaded to come to the UK. Their choice of base for all their business operations from location services to final mixing will be heavily influenced by the tax and regulatory advantages to be gained in the core territory. In addition to specific financial incentives, the capacity of the Film Council to advise and facilitate production, co-production and distribution goes further to attract and encourage overseas (and especially US financed films) than any other single factor.

7.3 London enjoys a special reputation derived from its hub of film and TV post-production services based (largely) in Soho which relies upon a cluster of talent being accessible within a walkable area. The Film Council has been able to promote and emphasize this unique multi-sectoral advantage in its role as an arms-length body.

7.4 We have general sympathy with the notion of reducing the number of quangos and NGPBs, however, to do away with the Film Council shows a unique degree of ill-informed shortsightedness that can only lose the country money. The decision to abolish it should be reversed without delay.

8) Whether businesses and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level;

8.1 Yes they can – but they will deserve a better climate of recognition and even reward. In addition to tax incentives (mentioned below), corporations and philanthropists should be encouraged to provide services, accommodation and marketing support for cultural activities. Company premises can be used as venues for events, car parks could be used for local fund raising events to help local arts projects. Corporations should be allowed to write off such provision as ‘in-kind’ contributions to the communities they serve, free of any tax burden.

8.2 Beyond the financial breaks that could be established, a climate of civil respect for corporate and individual contributions – promoting the ‘honour’ of serving the community should be encouraged and even acknowledged through a system of community recognition. [A model has existed for centuries in Jersey where the ‘Honourary system’ gives opportunities for respected citizens to serve the municipalities in such activities as approving and allocating loans and grants within the gift of the local administration, policing of local bye-laws, speed restrictions, rowdy behavior etc. The system is perceived to have varying hierarchical levels which often built toward an individual standing for local government.]

9) Whether there needs to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations.

9.1 The US ‘philanthropy’ model has been mooted as a way for well-heeled arts devotees to plug the hole likely to arise following the recent public funding reductions. However, there is a direct and simple tax incentive enjoyed by rich US citizens that the UK’s ‘Gift Aid’ does not match. The ability for individual and corporate donors to write off as a non-taxable expense a substantial proportion of donations to approved foundations, trusts and endowments will contribute enormously to creating a culture of generous donation to artistic and deserving causes.

9.2 A review of the UK’s personal and corporate tax regime should include consideration of a measure that provides an opportunity for tax-payers to direct a proportion of their otherwise payable tax to funding bodies that support cultural activities, civic and other deserving causes.

9.3 Developing a philanthropic culture should be a broad-base endeavour that is shared by the whole community irrespective of financial status. Whilst it will be very useful to have the funds that can be provided by multi-millionaires, respecting generous contributors who give not only in monetary terms but those who devote their time and experience will be key.

August 2010