Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Jonathan Platt (arts 102)

Jonathan Platt B.A., M.Soc.Sci., FMA writes in his own capacity as a museum professional working in Lincolnshire.

1. Summary

1.1 Spending cuts have already had a significant impact on museum and heritage services in Lincolnshire, with reduced hours and now the proposed

closure of three museums.

1.2 Organisations are increasingly working together to collaborate on both

strategic and operational matters. Examples include the Lincolnshire One project for arts venues and the development of a Cultural Strategy for Lincolnshire, County Arts Strategy and County Sports Strategy.

1.3 Public subsidy is necessary for arts and heritage organisations.

1.4 The current systems for the distribution of government funding are varied and complex. Since 2009 MLA’s administration of the excellent Renaissance Programme has become increasingly bureaucratic, cumbersome and far less efficient.

1.5 The key functions of MLA should continue to be delivered by government, but in the absence of a sector lead body how will government engage with the sector beyond 2012?

1.6 Looking to businesses and philanthropists to play a long term role in funding the arts may work in London, but it will not work in the regions which are in danger of becoming cultural deserts.

1.7 The development of tax incentives to encourage private donations are welcome, but will principally benefit London based institutions.

2. Effect of recent and future spending cuts

2.1 The impact of recent spending cuts has been to create pay and recruitment freezes in the arts and heritage sectors. This has reduced capacity to deliver and has directly affected front line services. For example, Lincolnshire County Council’s museum sites have closed at 4pm since 1 May 2008.

2.2 Future spending cuts have already led to the announcement that the County Council will be unable to operate the following:

Church Farm Museum, Skegness from 1.11.2010
Grantham Museum from 31.3.2011
Stamford Museum from 30.6.2011

2.3 At the County Council’s sites that are remaining open admission charges have been increased above inflation in 2010. For example, at Lincoln Castle, Gainsborough Old Hall and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre adult admission prices were increased from £4.10 to £5.00 from 1.4.2010. Further above inflation price increases are likely to occur from 1.4.21011. Whilst in the short term this does not seem to have had a detrimental effect on numbers attending, it is likely to do so in the future.

3. What can arts organisations do to work more closely together?

3.1 In Lincolnshire the Arts Council have supported the development of the Lincolnshire One project under their Organisational Development Thrive Programme. This has brought together many of the local authority arts venues in the county such they cooperate more on marketing, promotion, audience development and arts development. During 2009 they created a county wide Arts Strategy This is Art!.

3.2 Similarly, in 2009 Lincolnshire’s eight local authorities came together to write a joint Cultural Strategy Promote, Provide Participate!

3.3 Both documents followed hard on the heals of the 2008 Lincolnshire-wide Sports Strategy Loving Sport, Living Life: A Strategy for Lincolnshire to 2012 and beyond.

3.4 All three documents set a strategic direction for arts, sports and cultural organisations to go in, but funding cuts will undoubtedly reduce capacity to deliver.

4. What level of public subsidy for arts and heritage is necessary?

4.1 In 2008-9 Lincolnshire County Council’s heritage service generated 38% of its turnover from admissions, trading, grants etc. This suggests that it needed 62% "subsidy" from the taxpayers of Lincolnshire to operate as it is.

4.2 Of the 38%, 6.6% came from the national Renaissance programme which is currently under review.

4.3 Reductions in this level of "subsidy" will directly reduce the size, scale and nature of the service. They are doing so already.

5. Is the current system, and structure of funding distribution the right one?

5.1 The current system is complex and in many respects cumbersome. Lincolnshire’s Heritage Service receives funding from the County Council, English Heritage, the Arts Council and Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. In the past it has also secured grant funding from the East Midlands Development Agency and Government Office for the East Midlands. All have different systems, criteria and in some cases even financial years. This makes accounting and administration overly complex.

5.2 Since April 2009 the administration of the excellent Renaissance programme in England by the Museums, Libraries and Archive’s Council has become more and more bureaucratic and cumbersome. Prior to April 2009 MLA had a single funding agreement with Leicester City Council as the accountable body for the programme in the East Midlands. Partner services (Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derby City, Nottingham City and Northampton Borough) worked with Leicester City to create a unified regional programme. Leicester distributed the funding through agreements with partner services such as Lincolnshire County Council’s Heritage Service. Leicester also collated the statistical and financial information required by MLA. Since April 2009 MLA has insisted on direct agreements with five partner services including Lincolnshire and still requires Leicester City to collate information. Five agreements are now required, increasing bureaucracy both for MLA and partner services. Quarterly returns now have to be submitted to both MLA and Leicester City and what was once a regional programme is increasingly becoming a series of county or city wide schemes.

6. Impact of lottery Changes on arts and heritage organisations?

6.1 No comment.

7. Need to review National Lottery policy guidelines?

7.1 No comment.

8. Impact of abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council?

8.1 The key functions of the MLA should continue:
Acceptance in Lieu scheme –via the Treasury
National Security Adviser Scheme and Museum Accreditation –via The Collections Trust
Renaissance – via Department for Culture, Media and Sport or possibly the Arts

Council using its established Regularly Funded Organisations (RFO) model.

8.2 Of key concern is whether the museums, libraries and archives sector will continue to be heard by government after MLA ceases to exist in 2012.

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

9.1 From 2000 to 2005 I was Project Director for the creation of the creation of a new City and County Museum for Lincoln and Lincolnshire. The scheme cost over £12m. In spite of strenuous attempts to secure private sector funding from companies and organisations only £100,000 (0.8%) came from businesses, and less than £11,000 from private individuals. The rest came from local authorities, grants, government agencies and charities. Based on this experience I would suggest that only national organisations based in London will benefit from the generosity of businesses and philanthropists. If the regions are left to rely on these sources of income they will become cultural deserts.

10. Government incentives to encourage private donations

10.1 Such incentives would be most welcome, but they are only likely to benefit those national organisations based in London.

September 2010