Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Aldeburgh Music (arts 134)


1. This submission is sent by Jonathan Reekie, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music, on behalf of Aldeburgh Music. We have largely resisted the temptation to feedback on national issues since we imagine that you will receive much sermonising on them! The comments below mostly relate to Aldeburgh Music as opposed to the sector as whole, partly because it’s what we know best . We also hope that the Committee will be interested in what can be learnt from Aldeburgh Music

2. Aldeburgh Music , founded in 1948 by composer Benjamin Britten and singer Peter Pears, is responsible for……

- The Aldeburgh Festival and a year round programme of concerts and events

- Aldeburgh Residencies – the UK’s only year-round professional development programme for top musicians

- The Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme – the longest established and biggest postgraduate development programme for emerging professionals

- Aldeburgh Young Musicians – the newest Centre for Advanced Training, for children of exceptional potential (part-funded by the Department for Education)

- Aldeburgh Education – an education programme that has received national recognition for it’s work with children and marginalised members (eg:young offenders, NEETS) of the local community

- Snape Maltings Concert Hall, and a campus of music spaces.


1. Grant cuts will of course reduce our artistic output and our competitive position as well as – and perhaps most important – damage the remarkable and measurable economic impact that Aldeburgh Music has had on the local economy in Suffolk.

2. The phasing of any cuts will be critical for Aldeburgh Music (and some other UK arts organisations), to allow for enough lead time for necessary reductions in expenditure. The fact is that we make financial commitments a long way ahead.

3. Arts organisations that have run their affairs efficiently should be rewarded and not penalised in a period of cuts. Too often in the past, the inefficient have needed extra support in times of hardship, at the expense of those who have been responsible

4. The Arts already plays a central role in the Big Society. This could be developed further.

5. Grants should increasingly be prioritised not on the basis of past investment but on future sustainability and strong governance.

6. There is scope for a more incentivised giving and tax regime, with a higher cap on benefits

7. Restoring the lottery money previously diverted to the Olympics is vital.


Q: 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. To be precise a 10% cut of our Arts Council England grant is around £145,000 for Aldeburgh Music and a significant amount of our total income budget for 2010/11. To put it in context this is equivalent to one of the following: the income from about 25 small trust and foundation applications; our direct education project spend for 2011/12; our entire marketing spend; 9 f.t.e jobs; professional development for about 450 artists in a year.

A 25% cut is equivalent to 22 f.t.e jobs or the entire direct project costs of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, the UK’s longest established and biggest support programme for emerging professional artists.

2. More broadly, there are several points to bear in mind

- Effect on artistic standing and international competitiveness: Aldeburgh Music is a leading provider internationally of professional development for top musicians and one of the world’s leading centres for contemporary music. Maintaining a competitive edge internationally is a continual challenge and whilst we will do everything we can to maintain this, there is a very really chance of losing ground to our competitors.

- Effect on the economy and jobs: Aldeburgh Music is one arts organisation that has a very significant benefit for its local economy, being both a driver for local tourism and a major employer. Research – which can be made available - shows that recent capital and revenue investment into Aldeburgh Music has had a very considerable economic effect locally. Inevitably, cuts will feed through into lower economic impact.

There is much talk about the economic effects of investment in the so called creative industries and the arts – not all of it accurate! Aldeburgh Music is a very good example of public monies feeding through to the local economy and to job creation in particular. We suggest that it will be important in making cuts for a bias to be exercised in favour of preserving investments which have tangible and direct economic benefits.

- The danger of rewarding failure: A more subtle point is that we have managed our affairs responsibly, through the recent years of prosperity, strengthening our balance sheet and keeping costs cut to the bone. Cuts will lead to organisations which haven’t been responsible, needing extra support in a time of difficulty, so that inefficiency gets rewarded (just as happened in the 1990s)

- Phasing of cuts: We are typical of a substantial minority of arts organisations who make commitments a long time ahead, though it has to be said not as much as companies like the opera houses.

Therefore, many commitments are in place for 2011/12 and beyond. Add to this the fact that, like any building based organisation, a significant part of our budget is overhead, then projects with shorter lead times are most vulnerable to cuts. One example is education work, which will be an easy target for expenditure reduction and although we will be determined to avoid this, difficult choices will have to be made. A gradual phasing of cuts could lessen negative impact.

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

1. There are several ways arts organisations can work together more effectively...

- Undoubtedly more can be done to share resources and purchase more effectively. There are some signs that this is already happening but there is scope to increase it.

- Successful larger organisations can give advice and support to smaller organisations locally.

- Aldeburgh Music regularly collaborates with other arts organisations locally, nationally and internationally on artistic productions. Interestingly, our experience shows that we tend to be lower cost than similar organisations abroad.

- Larger organisations can share overheads by offering a home or facilities to smaller organisations. This can have not only economic but also artistic benefits.

2. A word of caution....

- The arts sector has a number of small, fleet-of-foot and highly entrepreneurial organisations, who employ staff on sensible salaries. If working together means mergers, getting bigger can lead to non-productive increases in scale.

Q: What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable?

We don’t have a precise answer but would make a few observations

1. Regarding necessity ……

- There is a great deal of evidence that societies with investment in the arts are more successful on economic and social measures, including an improved sense of wellbeing. There are also wider cultural arguments for the arts that will be made elsewhere. Both of these, though important, are abstract and difficult to quantify

- It is much easier, however, to quantify the economic effects precisely. It is clear that in many places, such as Aldeburgh, (but also other examples such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle), the arts can be a major attraction for tourists and businesses and individuals re-locating. As we have said above we suggest that the economic benefits that this yields should be taken into account.

- If we have understood the Big Society correctly, the Arts have the potential to play a major role in the Big Society through its educational activities and extensive volunteering. We were somewhat surprised – and delighted – to find that we have been participating in a rather substantial way in the Big Society without being aware of it! For example, Aldeburgh Music has about 160 volunteers giving 9,200 hours of help; engages with about 8000 participants through its education programmes; helps its local elderly population stay active, through for example lunchtime concerts in the winter months.

2. On the question of sustainability, we suggest that grant making bodies should …..

- Examine the key point as to whether organisations are sustainable. To anticipate a point made below we suggest that one of the key criteria in taking decisions about grants should be the judgement as to whether an organisation is capable of meeting its financial targets and has sufficient fundraising skills in particular.

- Look at the overall return to the community using a variety of different measures such as economic and social impact.

- Again, the timing or phasing of cuts is critical, as two possible mitigating factors to cuts (lottery money & private philanthropy) will take time to deliver benefits

Q: Whether the current system, and structure, of funding distribution is the right one

We mainly comment from our own experience in the East of England although some of the points may have national relevance.

1. We’ve had a very good relationship with ACE East under the leadership of Andrea Stark, who has been very supportive, encouraging us to be ambitious whilst being very tough and demanding on what we deliver.

2. Money is still given to some organisations with inadequate governance . We suggest that greater attention should be paid to governance as a criterion for giving grants.

3. As is suggested above, greater weight in making funding decisions should be given as to whether organisations can be sustainable. This probably means that funding organisations, in particular ACE, should be encouraged to develop ways in understanding the difference between good and bad fundraising.

Q: What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery funds will have on arts and heritage organisations; Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed

1. If by recent changes the question refers to the money being diverted from the arts to the Olympics, this has had a hugely detrimental effect.

2. If it refers diverting Olympic money back to the arts, then this is to be welcomed. If cuts are to be made they could be mitigated by some of this money coming back post-Olympics, though the timing of cuts would have to reflect this (see above)

Q: The impact of recent changes to Department of Culture, Media & Sport arm’s-length bodies - in particular the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council


Q: Whether businesses and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level

1. The short answer is yes. Aldeburgh Music has doubled its private income in the last decade, on top of raising £11m of private funding for a capital project.

2. This is a good thing though of course the downside is that when recession hits, this support can be quick to disappear. In other words it is much more volatile income source so, for example, two years ago corporate support evaporated almost overnight, leaving big gaps in budgets.

3. Therefore it doesn’t always feel as if it pays off to be self sufficient. As stated above, organisations who have taken the burden off state in good times by being good at fundraising shouldn’t be penalised in bad times.

4. More could be done to encourage giving. Yes, there is scope for fine tuning and improving the tax breaks. Also, arts organisations could be supported in ensuring that tax benefits are communicated clearly to potential givers.

Q: Whether there need to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations

1. We don’t have a particular expertise but comment that

- There has been improvement in incentives for giving in the last decade, which over time have helped giving.

- Very importantly the cap on benefits for giving needs to be raised

- The general tax and VAT regime will be determine how much disposable income is available for arts giving, so the issue needs to be viewed holistically

September 2010