Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by the Foundation for Community Dance (arts 08)

The Foundation for Community Dance is the professional organisation for anyone involved in creating opportunities for people to experience and participate in dance. We have over 2,000 members – dance artists, organisations and companies, colleges, universities and local authorities – who represent some 5,000 professionals working in community and participatory dance across the UK and reach almost 5 million participants and an estimated audience of 10 million annually.

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

1.1 The recent and significant increase in arts funding over the past 10 years has raised the aspirations and ambitions of arts organisations, participants and audiences therefore spending cuts at both central and local level will be felt more deeply than before. Small community-based dance organisations, which the Foundation for Community Dance represents, will find it difficult to sustain year-round activity and will be thrown back on small and intermittent project grants – a regression to the funding environment of the 1990’s.

1.2 Much is being made of the potential cuts to national arms-length bodies, yet our concern is that reduction in funding by local authorities will have a deeper impact on community and participatory arts activities. Funding for organisations that offer community dance activities as part of their programme is very often a partnership between the Arts Council and local authorities, and we would regret any return to the game of ping-pong between funders symptomatic of previous decades.

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 Collaboration is of great benefit to the arts. We offer two examples of how the dance sector, through clear leadership and clarity of purpose, has worked together to forward national strategic programmes – with each partner bringing to the table their own expertise and resource:

2.2 Dance Training and Accreditation Partnership (DTAP): a small group of national dance bodies came together to address the issue of quality dance provision for young people in the informal sector. Sharing their knowledge and skills, they have developed a national qualification for teaching dance with children and young people in the informal sector; are developing national occupational standards for community dance; and researching the potential of establishing a more formalised approach to quality assurance across dance. The group successfully applied as a consortium for Arts Council England lottery funding, which no individual organisation could have achieved on its own.

2.3 Dance Takes the Lead Group: A much broader coalition of some 20 organisations representing the full spectrum of dance in the UK came together to develop proposals for dance to have a role in the Cultural Olympiad. This was a sector-wide initiative to address the issue of dance not having a specific strand in the Olympiad programme in the way other artforms have. We have, together, developed an exciting proposal that is being taken forward by LOCOG and the Arts Councils of the UK. It would have been simply impossible for one organisation to achieve this.

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

3.1 We don’t know that we can answer this in any meaningful way, other than to say that after a period of increases in state subsidy of the arts we were approaching a time that felt far more sustainable than ever before. Any damage to this should be minimised, as should the wasteful or irresponsible use of public funds by funded arts organisations.

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

4.1 We support the arms length principle, and the need for the Arts Councils. However, our sense is that there is further scope to develop more streamlined and transparent organisations that have themselves responded and changed in relation to the external financial and social landscape.

5. Whether the policy guidelines for lottery funding need to be reviewed

5.1 We welcome the Secretary of State’s consultation about the national lottery shares. We support a widening of access to arts using lottery funding and a review of policy to take account of this.

6. Whether businesses and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at national and local level

6.1 Philanthropy clearly has a role to play in the funding mix for the arts. Indeed many large national and London-based organisations have very successful track records in attracting donations. Recent evidence from the USA suggests that in the current economic climate these kinds of donations are beginning to slow down.

6.2 We have serious doubts that individual and corporate donations will provide any significant or serious level of sustainable support to community arts activity. We do not believe that the donor benefits or attractions exist within small-scale and grass roots arts activities to develop philanthropy, as currently envisaged by the Government, as a sustainable part of the funding mix.

6.3 Some corporations – eg Natwest, Tesco etc – already run community investment programmes, and support local charitable activities though on the whole these are small, one-off amounts and arts organisations are not often beneficiaries. Where more significant corporate donations exist these are very often targeted at mainstream arts performance and providers – opera, ballet, classical music. We should be very wary of applying models that work for these organisations to ALL organisations. Where potential to attract donations exists this should be encouraged, where is does not this should not result in punishment.

7. Whether there needs to be more government incentives to encourage private donations

7.1 Yes. However, we might need to consider an approach about changing hearts and minds – a values based campaign – and less about individual and corporate tax breaks, to initiate a step-change particularly to individual giving. Might the plethora of lobbies and organisations set up to help us ‘cope with the cuts’ usefully work together on this?

7.2 We also suggest that Brazil developed an interesting model, where corporations receive tax incentives for their donations to socially inclusive work rather than the merit-goods offered by the large-scale national galleries and companies.

August 2010