Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Sue Grace, Sarah Bridges, Jane Seddon, Carrie Carruthers, Louise Tyrrell and Grace Kempster, Northamptonshire County Council

(arts 30)

Please note: the views expressed are those of the individuals below and do not constitute the view of the County Council.


Sue Grace Head of Customer and Cultural Services, Northamptonshire County Council

Sarah Bridges Archives and Heritage Manager, Northamptonshire County Council

Jane Seddon Museum Development Officer, Northamptonshire

Carrie Carruthers}

Louise Tyrrell } Arts Strategy Manager, Northamptonshire County Council

Grace Kempster Customer and Library Services Manager, Northamptonshire County Council

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. The arts in Northamptonshire are relatively under-developed when compared to the rest of the region, with fewer infrastructural resources and a smaller number of independent arts organisations. Only 6.5% of the organisations regularly funded by the Arts Council England, East Midlands (ACEEM) are based in Northamptonshire, which compares poorly with its 15% of the region’s population (Arts Council Regularly Funded Organisations (RFO), are listed as RFO’s in the paragraphs below). ACEEM has identified a small number of geographical priorities in its current operational plan, of which Northamptonshire is one.

1.2. Funding of the arts in Northamptonshire is generally below the national average, with both local government and the Arts Council providing less support in the county than elsewhere in the region. It can be inferred that this has contributed to a slower development of the arts in the county than in other parts of the East Midlands, since limited resources has the inevitable effect of limiting demand.

1.3. Therefore the spending cuts could potentially mean that some of the infrastructure we do have is threatened or even lost altogether. The social and economic impact of this is hard to determine at this point.

1.4. At county level, archives serves (record offices) and heritage services such as Historic Environment Records are usually financed by county councils. At a time of pressure on public sector finance and the likelihood of councils needing to look very closely at what they can provide within reduced budgets, services that are seen as non-essential are likely to fare badly. The risks are that already small services will be pared down to the point that they cannot operate. This could put the heritage of our country at risk.

1.5. In the case of a Record Office, an authority may decide not to open to the public but it still has a responsibility, statutory in many instances, to look after archives. The buildings in which the collections are housed need to be maintained and the collections need to be cared for. However, if the service is not open to the public, then we are wasting an invaluable asset that can be used to support numerous other key government priorities. Similarly the Historic Environment Record is a heritage asset in its own right. It is also a vital component of the planning process – if there was no funding to provide a HER, then decisions could be made that would impact on or even destroy some of the historic environment of the country.

1.6. Clearly libraries are a statutory service and remain so, which is welcomed. Libraries have a crucial role in effective audience development for heritage and culture - ie bringing new and diverse audiences to engage with heritage and culture.

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. Eight arts organisations are currently working together through the Strategic Arts Network which is an initiative funded through Arts Council managed funds until March 2012. This has given the key arts organisations the opportunity to establish links and explore economies of scale. The main lesson we have learnt through this project is that it takes time to do this work if organisations do not already know each other. It takes time and investment to develop a culture of partnership working.

2.2. The Royal and Derngate have recently won the tender to run the new Corby Cube theatre the model here is in effect a shared service model, with corporate and back office functions shared across the two venues. We will be watching this with interest to see what lessons can be learned.

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

3.1. Cultural investment plans have been created with partners by West Northants Development Corporation and North Northants Development Company. We are therefore very clear about priorities for the county with the opportunity to focus on needs in the light of the opportunities afforded by the growth of the county. Cuts to funded organisations limit our ability to respond to these opportunities. We are already starting from a low base.

3.2. Essentially public funding for the arts is required to maintain the ‘non-commercial’ aspects of delivery – the community work, the development of new work, the creation of high quality, original artistic product.

3.3. Public funding is needed to support the services that are of and about the people of this country and their heritage. Everyone has an entitlement to know about their heritage, whether it be of their community, their family or of other communities of interest. Authorities need to be challenged to ensure they are making best use of their heritage resources but also supported in making it easier to access and engage with it.

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

4.1. We value the partnership with the Arts Council and of other boroughs and districts. An example is the partnership between Northampton Borough Council, the Arts Council and Northamptonshire County Council to fund key priority organisations in Northampton. This has involved joint review meetings and shared funding agreements. The Arts Council has just made major cuts to its administration any further cuts could be detrimental to its ability to deliver.

4.2. Support for voluntary and independent organisations is very important to help develop their sustainability for the future and a strong business direction. Renaissance is currently delivering this through frontline support for organisations. Specifically in Northamptonshire, museum development reaches a wide number of organisations across the county. The Renaissance structure in the East Midlands has the opportunity to link local knowledge with a wider strategic view. It is important to link the two perspectives

4.3. Some streamlining of funding streams would be useful. The link or separation between MLA funding and Renaissance funding sometimes adds to confusion over responsibilities. It could be argued that rather than have separate funding/development agencies such as MLA, Arts Council, Crafts Council, Screen Agencies these could all merge to create a body with responsibility for culture and creative industries development.

4.4. The enquiry needs to note the opportunity for cross skilling of libraries, heritage and cultural staff to bring alive opportunities for self betterment

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

5.1. The change to small grant funding in ACE is welcome. The change to quicken the decision of grants up to 10K has been an improvement. It has enabled smaller projects to be more nimble and quicker to implement. The proposed change by DCMS to restore the national lottery shares for arts, heritage and sport is very welcome. This would ensure that funding is available to offset the pressures from reductions in treasury funding, at a time when organisations and charities really need it to ensure that the public continues to receive high quality experiences that enrich their lives. However, as other funding streams decrease this will inevitably become more competitive.

5.2. The application process in HLF is currently too bureaucratic. Many organisations require support from development workers outside of HLF to develop a structure and capacity to secure funding or to be encouraged to apply this could be simplified.

5.3. We are concerned that currently we do not have a philanthropic culture in the UK and that this would take many years to develop. Private sector investment is already a key aspect of funding but this too has been challenging to maintain in recent times.

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


· Currently the application process is too bureaucratic

· The focus on volunteering is good for independents and the voluntary sector but if there is less local authority and government funding for museums then the application process needs to be made easier for local authority museums.

· The HLF currently will not fund things that it judges should be part of a local authority’s core responsibilities. This will need to change as local government funding is cut. An innovative capital project that in the past might have been taken forward within a local authority is less likely to be from now on. Therefore the judgment about what is or is not ‘core’ needs to change.

· 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;

6.2. The loss of MLA is particularly relevant to these sectors. It is important in the current economic climate that we have a strategic body with these responsibilities sitting within their principal functions. See above for suggestion of mergers between current bodies to create a culture and creative industries development agency.

6.3 It is also important that the following MLA functions are secured:

· Accreditation scheme. Many museums including volunteer community museums have worked hard to reach the best practise of accreditation standards and need to be reassured.

· Designation – this is a lifeline for significant regional collections.

· Government indemnity scheme

· Acceptance in lieu

· Representation of the museum/archives sector

· Renaissance (This funding has addressed a previous chronic underfunding in the sector. Renaissance funding is necessary to continue developing organisations to help improve access to museums for all.)

· Portable Antiquities Scheme

6.4. It is important to note that arts, museums, libraries and archives all have an important role to play in the implementation of the government’s Big Society. The development of cultural capital is a vital part of building the social capital that is required for the Big Society to thrive. It is important therefore that these sectors are represented at a senior, strategic level within government – albeit at arms length. Any change should be implemented in consultation with local authorities and other key providers to ensure it is fit for purpose. We recognise that rationalisation of what we currently have will have to take place, given the deficit in public funds, but a voice for these sectors and development support and funding is still required.

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

7.1. Northamptonshire has had little investment from businesses into the arts in the past.  It was considered a ‘cold’ spot for the Nottinghamshire based Arts and Business who made little headway in developing relationships.   The organisation most likely to benefit is the Royal & Derngate due to their profile and nature of work, although they have found it difficult to attract private funding in the past, and over the last two years they have seen their business support reduce.  In the current economic climate this seems likely to get worse not better.  The nature of the arts organisations in the county, apart from the R&D, tend to be low profile and so historically have found it difficult to offer businesses what they are looking for.  In terms of philanthropists – we have no history of this sort of financial support in the county and so it would be an uncertain avenue of support for the future and certainly long term.  We therefore do not consider they are able to play a role in funding the arts unless there is investment in the short term in developing these relationships alongside incentives to encourage this to take place. We currently do not have a philanthropic culture in the UK. This would take many years to develop

7.2. The cutting edge in arts, and also some work that involves making culture accessible, is unlikely to be funded by philanthropy. Sponsorship may also not be applicable as sponsorship is dependent on a fit with a company’s principles and can also create ethical problems. The American model results in art activity through philanthropic subsidy that is sometimes being restrictively expensive and therefore not accessible to all. It may be important to develop funding from businesses and philanthropists. However this may take many years to become embedded. There are concerns that while philanthropy may be attractive in London among the bigger institutions with established brand, this is not so for organisations outside of London and relatively small community museums and local authority museums where philanthropy will not make up for cuts in public funding.

7.3. As it is now, funding needs to be a mix from businesses, philanthropists, but also from the public sector.

August 2010