Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Faceless Company Ltd (arts 50)


· Faceless is a small organisation delivering street arts and community arts projects established 20 years ago. Its funding mix is 50% earned income, 26% project funding and 23% core cost funding.

· A 25%-30% cut to our core funding would have a devastating impact on a small organisations due to the fact that earned income is often recycled public money and commissions and commercial income is reduced due to the economic downturn

· Many small scale arts organisations are already running to tight a ship to share staff resources although the option of ensuring that new builds of schools, community centres and public buildings and regeneration projects provide working space for arts organisations at peppercorn rent could have significant impact on levels of arts subsidy needed from central and local government.

· Public subsidy is essential as the market will not pay the price for the labour intensive product and many organisations can not deliver the volumes to ensure a commercial return on investment

· The Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Funds are effective deliverers of public funds. Central and Local Government could do more to ensure smaller organisations are able to access commissions for work which deliver central and local government initiatives. The level of bureaucracy within the present system favours national charities and larger organisations.

· The arts should benefit from an increase in funds through the lottery good causes. However, these increased in funds from the lottery appear unlikely to offset the total impact of the cuts to central and local government that will filter down to arts providers

· The Big Lottery Fund would be more effective if it actively supported R & projects where community organisations can work with local people to gain buy in to a larger project

· A way of ensuring businesses and philanthropists support the smaller, less visible projects is to tax pre-tax profits as a % for arts and to instigate a voluntary donation scheme from philanthropists that could be distrcibuted through the current funding bodies.

1. Context for our submission, who Faceless is and what it does.

Established in 1990, the Faceless Company aims to increase access to the arts through outdoor performance, community arts and event management projects. The company strives to deliver its work fee of charge to communities that otherwise will have little or no access to live performance or creative activity. Faceless works extensively with young people and marginalised communities using the arts to develop self confidence and aspirations explore identity, foster of belonging as a means and nurture active citizens.

This submission is made by Bev Adams FRSA BA Hons, founder member, Artistic Director & CEO of Faceless. Faceless employs 3 full time staff and a further full time equivalent of 3 staff made up of freelance artists working on a project by project basis.

The company turns over +- £250K per annum and its funding mix is made up of 50% earned income from local authorities, statutory organisations, national charities, voluntary sector organisations, festival programmers and shopping centres, 26% project funding from the lottery (Arts & Heritage) trusts & foundations and 23% core funding from Arts Council, Wakefield Council and West Yorkshire Grants. 2009/10 figures

2. Recent impact of spending cuts from central and local Government on the arts on a local and national level

The immediate 10% cut had little impact on small organisations such as ourselves, as it made up such a small amount of our overall income.

3. Future impact of spending cuts from central and local Government on the arts on a local and national level

A 25%-30% cut to our core funding would have a devastating impact on a small organisation such as ourselves. The issue is compounded by the fact central and local government spending cuts affect all aspects of our income generating options. In the current economic climate, we have already seen a reduction in our earned income as local authorities and statutory

organisations cut back on commissioning work and spending on the arts. In addition, our voluntary sector clients, whilst commissions from them are treated as earned income from us, are really recycled public funds that they have made application for and commission us to deliver. This means that, whilst our services are in line with delivering a Big Society agenda, we are unable to deliver on this Agenda if we can not raise the funds to support our projects from our present range of central and local government funded sources.

4. Can arts organisations work more closely together in order to reduce duplication and make economies of scale?

It is possible that some arts organisations can work more closely together, however many smaller arts organisations already rely on committed, highly skilled, multi-tasking staff who are comparatively low paid and work long hours. The sharing of buildings is very much a viable option, certainly in our field of work and we would very much like to be situated in the heart if a local community. Perhaps, when new schools, community centres or regeneration projects are built, there should be a provision made for a resident arts company.

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

If it were possible for the market to pay the price for what it costs to make a piece of art, theatre or music, then I would advocate for no subsidy of the arts. However it is not possible for small arts organisations to survive in a commercial world as most projects are bespoke and are not able to generate the volumes of sales to break event

When compared to the prices that can be commanded in the corporate world, the present cost of a 5 day project in the community with 3 artists is relatively cheap at around £5000 + expenses. However, in order for a company of our size cover our overheads of £140K pa we would need to deliver 28 projects at £5K per year. This would be possible a) if all our clients can afford to pay £5000 and many can’t and b) that 28 communities in our area would have the capacity to accommodate such a project c) we used salaries staff in the field on these projects, leaving little time for the running and ongoing development of the business.

Therefore public subsidy of the arts needs to take place when the art is perceived as having real and lasting benefit to society and where there are limited commercial income generating options to enable the activity to take place

6. Is the current funding system the right one

The Arts Council acting as a main distributor of arts funding is an expedient way of getting funding to small and innovative as well as strategically important arts organisations and projects.

I would like to see Central and Local Government make more innovative use of arts organisations and arts projects in the delivery of their services. The arts can deliver on a range of agendas and the process for bidding for new central and local government initiatives needs to be simplified so that the smaller organisations are not at a disadvantage when competing for these tenders and commissions. Quite often at present, due to the sheer workload of submitting a tender, the tendering system (SCMS) favours national rather than local charities. Also, the SCMS system does not take into account the relationships that arts officers, community officers and education providers have developed with local organisations. In a Big Society model where local people are more active in delivering local services, this "on the ground" knowledge and local trust is vital to project success and outcomes

7. Impact of the changes to the distribution of lottery funds

The arts should benefit from an increase in funds through the lottery good causes. However, these increased in funds from the lottery appear unlikely to offset the total impact of the cuts to central and local government that will filter down to arts providers.

8. Do the policy guidelines for National Lottery Funding need to be reviewed?

The Arts Council Grants for the Arts and Heritage Lottery schemes are effective at funding projects that have local impact, are innovative or strategic value.

However the Big Lottery Fund is very difficult to access. The Big Lottery fund fails to understand that in order to run truly effective projects in very local communities it needs to fund smaller R & D projects which seed funds the work that takes time to build real buy in from local people to a project. Once the R & D is done, then that local people and the community delivery organisation would be in a better position to work up a major project with meaningful outcomes.

9. Can businesses and philanthropists play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level

Local community arts work, whilst its impacts society (people into work, community cohesion, active citizenship, engaging young people) is often invisible to the wider world. Whilst it would meet local businesses corporate social responsibility agendas, the amounts such local businesses could contribute is in the £100s not £1000s.

An effective way to really match central and local government subsidy would be to tax local businesses profits as a % for art. A percentage of the billions made by shareholders in pre-tax profits as well as a voluntary contribution through wealthy philanthropists, distributed through the lottery givers of Arts Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Funds, could have a substantial impact.

10. Are government incentives needed to encourage private donations

Please see above re voluntary donations from philanthropist and a % for arts on pre-tax profits

September 2010