Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by OYAP Trust (arts 28)

OYAP Trust

OYAP Trust was founded twelve years ago as the development agency for youth arts in Oxfordshire. Since then we have been actively working at the cutting edge of the youth arts sector and we are considered to be one of the leading youth arts organisations in the region.

Youth Arts

Youth Arts is a broad and diverse practice and operates within many different sectors including: the arts sector; local government; health and social services; statutory and voluntary youth services; uniformed groups; the youth justice system; faith and cultural organisations… and more.

‘‘Youth Arts refers to young people taking part voluntarily in creative, cultural, or expressive activity outside of formal education’’ Sir Ken Robinson – foreword to ‘Taking it Seriously – youth arts in the real world

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;

Spending cuts from government will have an immense and irreparably damaging effect on this sector in the coming years. If a Big Society concept is to work there must be local and grass roots arts organisations that can deliver cost effective provision, however without a level of investment in the costs of running these organisations they will be gone for ever. We have found that our organisation was created as a local authority initiative as a strategic response to an identified need, ie young people and engagement in positive life changing activities. If organisations such as ours disappear it will cost so much more to recreate them at another future point – the need has not disappeared just because the funding has. Unfortunately the arts are seen as an easy target for cuts, however life has to have some highlights, and the arts can give very real skills in creative thinking and resilience which our young people are going to need if they are to step up to the plate for this country in the next decade.

Smaller charities are struggling without local government support, as they find it harder to attract funding from trusts and foundations as demand for their support is intensifying to ridiculous levels. So it is the local, grassroots organisations that are going to die, and the national charities and large scale charities with buildings and staffing resources that will survive.

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

Arts organisations do this anyway – especially those working with young people. Partnerships are built specifically to deliver challenging work with young people, and it is not uncommon to find anywhere between five and ten organisations coming together to enable work with young people to take place. These organisations cross many sectors, from the local community police, to social services departments, to local arts venues and arts organisations.

I would advocate combining outcomes of arts and heritage funded projects to fulfil NEET objectives and increase chances for those at the beginning of their careers – increase arts provision and engage disadvantaged groups

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

For every pound of public subsidy invested in our organisation we lever in another thirteen pounds in additional income, from trusts and foundations, fundraising activities etc. However without that core resource we will not be able to exist to generate this income and opportunities for young people. It is that simple. The more you invest in organisations like ours, the more income will be generated.

It is necessary to fund arts organisation that work with young people because they deliver long-term benefits such as confidence, creative thinking, resilience, positive engagement, employability, transferable skills, community regeneration etc. It is not so much subsidy as investment in the future of this country.

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

It is a lottery that’s for sure. The trouble with centralisation is depersonalisation – there needs to be more funding at a local level, and more distribution at a local level, with more local say in how funding is spent – rather than large anonymous bureaucratic structures, where you are just a reference number on a piece of paper, and if you don’t put the right words on the paper, you know that really good projects that are in response to a very local need, will just get thrown out. The Arts Council have shifted the emphasis on supporting and advocating for the work that the arts community want to do, in favour of dictating what we should be doing, how we should be doing it, and being policed by this ever changing and shifting body. It can’t go on.

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

We would hope and expect to see more funding available to grass roots providers – more people are spending on lottery in recessionary times, so there should be more funding – the Olympics have had a devastating effect on the arts community – time to redress the balance.

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

In our opinion there needs to be some revision to the emphasis on placing young people’s decisions at the heart of a funding application. The hardest to reach young people – those surely everyone would want to benefit from positive creative engagement – are the very least able to contribute to this kind of process – and yet this is a basis for the rejection of lottery applications. Also we should be able to apply for funds to spend time doing this work – with less funding to the core resources of any organisations, time spent developing applications is critical time, very critical time. It also means that riskier work is in jeopardy – if a funder is not sure exactly what the outcomes will be they struggle to tick boxes as to whether they can fund the work – so you will get increasingly safe work, and innovative risk taking work will dwindle.

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

They do to a certain extent, but the government cannot expect them to fill in big holes with funding they may or may not choose to spend. Why should they? Having said that there does need to be more help to smaller organisations on the front line to hep them to engage these sources of funding.

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

Yes – tax breaks or similar – they need to see the benefit of investing in the arts and heritage.

August 2010