Funding of the arts and heritage

Written e vidence submitted by Carousel (a rts 12)

Presented by Carousel, learning disability led arts organisation working locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Our aim is to create work that challenges perceptions of what art is and who has created it. We have developed innovative models of supporting learning disabled artists to direct, manage and develop their artistic work using a steering committee based approach.

The comments below represent the views of the organisation Carousel.

Document summary in bullet points

· Impact on learning disabled artistic community, one of the most hidden and deprived communities in the UK

· Importance of subsidy to enable this work to continue

· Difficulty in gaining philanthropic or company giving to this kind of arts work

· Specialism of our work built up over a 30 year period

· Flexible approach to devising subsidy and funding systems

· Diversity of our funding portfolio, but necessity of public funding underpinning our endeavours

· 35% of our annual income is through lottery sources

· Critical impact on Oska Bright Film Festival by loss of UK Film Council subsidy

· Difficulty of accessing philanthropic giving in the regions – it is currently London-centric

· Difficulty in accessing business support/sponsorship for small learning disability arts organisations

· We have been unsuccessful in obtaining private donations, despite considerable effort and strategy implementation

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.i. The arts work that we support and deliver is all led by learning disabled artists and arts managers, targeted at the learning disabled community. Because of this, there is a level of support that needs to be provided to ensure that our artists can participate fully, develop their artistic and self advocacy skills, whilst having their needs met. The target audience for our work is the learning disabled community across the UK. This remains one of the most hardest to reach communities – one of the most impoverished, one of the most hidden – and the community whose voice has been consistently taken away from them. During the 30 years of our work, we have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the arts are the most important tool to inspire change within the learning disabled community, and the wider general public – profiling their success stories, highlighting their considerable abilities and showcasing their potential to be equal and active citizens. Our success has been phenomenal, the impact reaching across the world – and clearly demonstrating the lead that the UK has taken in creating, nurturing and platforming this work.

1.ii. This work is by its nature, labour intensive and time heavy. Our arts work – performance events, festivals and workshops cannot generate income through selling our work, or charging for entry. The community we target is the poorest in the UK. Subsidy from central and local government is necessary for this work to continue. Without subsidy, our work will cease.

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.i. The work that we do is unique, in that it is led and delivered by learning disabled artists. There are around 10 organisations that deliver similar work to us across the UK. We all are very small, typically employing a team of part-time and freelance staff numbering between 2 and 15. Geographically, we are spread far apart across the country. We cannot think of a different way to deliver the creative arts work that minimises duplication or reduces cost – there needs to be more of us, not fewer. Demand consistently outstrips supply by around 80%.

2.ii We have developed many links and specific partnerships with mainstream organisations during the last 30 years, ensuring that our work reaches maximum potential, and encouraging learning disabled audiences and artists to move into the mainstream. The support they need to do this is specialised, with a significant time (and therefore cost) commitment.

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

3.i The level of public subsidy necessarily depends on the kind of activity the organisation delivers. Many organisations like Carousel deliver activities and services to people who are marginalised and who are unable to pay.

3.ii Arts and Heritage shouldn’t be seen in isolation as involvement in the arts has the power to contribute to the health and well being of society. They give many people (particularly those excluded) the opportunity to take part, to build confidence and skills, to feel better. This can have a significant impact on other indicators like health, crime, community cohesion. The arts and heritage also has the power to transform the environment as we have seen many times through City of Culture and regeneration.

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

4.i We believe that it is important to support key organisations and provide an infrastructure for the arts. However there needs to be flexibility in the funding options to ensure that support meets the needs of the arts organisations. It is important that bodies who understand and know the arts and heritage sector manage this process. We would welcome longer term funding agreements where this is appropriate to ensure that we can plan our work and funding.

4.ii Public subsidy is vital to our work. Not only does it fund the organisation as a whole and a high level of our necessary core costs, which is very unpopular to private funders it also provides a ‘badge’ for us giving confidence to private funders that we are a high quality and reputable organisation. Like many arts organisations, we receive funding from a wide variety of sources. Although we have the advantage of ‘not putting all our eggs in one basket’ it does mean that we spend a lot of time putting together applications and reporting to funders.

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

5.i. Currently, 35% of our annual income comes from these National Lottery sources. They are vital for our future. But the plans for the emphasis of the allocation of these funds to be on new and additional areas of work will mean that established charitable projects will find it extremely hard to maintain and develop their funding. We will all have a series of time limited, new projects that create new work and new expectations that will then not be met on the projects conclusion. There will be no sustainability, development or legacy to this. The arts and heritage sector will lose their abilities to plan for the future and will need to rely on a number of short term project funding initiatives to build fragmented portfolios of art work that do not link together. If this happens, then a cultural identity will be lost.

6. Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed;

6.i. The three original lottery funding areas must be maintained:

1. Arts and Heritage

2. Sport

3. Good causes

Application processes need to be straightforward and time friendly. Reporting requirements need to be standardised across all three good causes, and minimised to ensure the delivery of the work is not held up by administrative processes

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.i. Our film festival – The Oska Bright International Short Film Festival ( was directly funded through UK Film Council, via the Diversity Department. Reporting requirements were minimal, and the investment of these funds attracted additional support for us from across the film and broadcasting industries. The funds allocated to us from UK Film Council acted as a lever – the £15,000 per Festival awarded, levered a further £35,000 in terms of sponsorship and philanthropic giving. Without these UK Film Council funds, and the time they bought us to secure this additional funding from these other sources, our Festival can’t happen. Oska Bright remains unique across the world, and has attracted much interest, and partnership developments across Europe, Canada and Australia. It is a beacon of best practice in the arts – a feather in the cap of the UK. But without public funding, we will sink very quickly. If the organisation managing our public subsidy is undergoing change, we need to know how this will impact on us. Considerable time has been invested in developing and maintaining positive relationships with UK Film Council – if we need to build links with new public funders, the impact on us will be very large. We will, in effect, be doubling our workload in the short term without the capacity or the resources to do this.

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

8.i Currently 75% of philanthropic giving takes place in London. It is also much more successful in high profile prestigious arts organisations and institutions. A number of existing philanthropists have already stated publicly that they are unable or unwilling to ‘fill the gap’ left by cuts in public funding. It seems unrealistic to depend on this stream of support particularly for small and community arts organisations working outside London.

8.ii Business sponsorship/support would, on the face of it, be a more realistic funding option. However, again it is more difficult for the smaller arts organisations to access. Partly because of the limited ‘publicity’ for businesses but also because of the amount of time that needs to be invested in securing support can be prohibitive. From our own experience there are many dead ends.

8.iii If there needs to be a transition to new streams of funding, arts and heritage organisations need to be supported and given the time to develop these new links. It is unreasonable to expect private funders to send a cheque the day after public subsidy ceases.

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

9.i. Yes there does. We find fundraising from these sources extremely hard. For 30 years we have been trying to develop this area, but in a good year, private donations from individuals and businesses totals 5% of our annual turnover of £250,000, in a bad year 0%. The culture of giving to the arts by learning disabled people doesn’t exist in the UK, currently. If we are to move towards relying on donations of this kind we will need support, and individuals and businesses will need considerably more incentive than they have had over the last 30 years to invest in us.

August 2010