Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by CapeUK (arts 165)

Background

CapeUK is an independent development and research agency which promotes creativity and the arts for children and young people. CapeUK receives funding from the Arts Council England as a Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO) and has funded its work from a variety of sources including charities, trusts, public sector funding and commissioned and consultancy work.

We work with many schools and other community settings in Yorkshire and the North West and collaborate with a wide range of organisations in the arts and heritage sector. We lead delivery of a number of key programmes – Creative Partnerships, Arts Award, the Arts Learning Consortium, Arts Explorer and other research and training programmes. We also acted as Creativity Advisor to DCSF 2007-2010. Through this portfolio, we support and work with hundreds of teachers, artists, academics and policy makers, and thousands of children and young people across England.

Summary

This response focuses on the potential impact of funding reductions for children and young people in relation to arts, culture and heritage. We argue that:

· Recent and future funding cuts will have a potentially damaging effect on the experience of and access to arts and heritage for children and young people

· Regional umbrella organisations that bring together arts and cultural expertise meeting the needs of children and young people would lead to economies of scale

· Public subsidy to support children and young people’s access to rich arts and heritage experiences is essential

· Emphasis on reducing bureaucracy and focusing on quality of outcomes across funders would be beneficial

· The redirection of funding within the national lottery will not necessarily benefit provision for children and young people

· The abolition of the UK film Council and MLA could remove valuable expertise from the sector

· Businesses and philanthropists could be encouraged to play a larger role in funding the arts. However, there is a danger that this will favour activities in London, larger high profile arts organisations and one off projects. Such investment should be seen as a supplement rather than a substitute for public sector funding.

Response

1. What impact will recent, and future, spending cuts from central and local Government have on the arts and heritage at a national and local level?

1.1. Investment in the arts in the education sector over the past few years has had a significant and measurable impact on education and the lives of children and young people.

It has promoted:

greater engagement of learners in their education

increased achievement within subject areas and basic skills,

higher aspirations for pupils and teachers,

employability skills - team working, producing ideas, divergent and convergent thinking skills, recognising possibilities.

1.2. This impact has been well documented by Ofsted, Creative Partnerships and the Education and Skills Select Committee report on Creative Partnerships and the curriculum. It has helped schools to liberate themselves from burdensome curricular constraints, and to promote effective and inspiring teaching. There is a valuable body of knowledge being developed that will enable the thrust of current educational policy to be realised.

1.3. It has also had a big impact on the arts sector – enabling practitioners from across the arts spectrum to use their skills and talents to lead creative learning - inspiring and engaging young people – and developing their own thinking and practice in the process. For many practitioners involving others in making art has become a central strand of their practice This strand of income is crucial for the survival of many individual artists and small companies. A considerable workforce of increasingly skilled and sophisticated ‘creative practitioners’ has been developed and all schools who have engaged with the programmes we lead, understand and appreciate their contributions.

1.4. Cuts to this sector will have a number of detrimental effects and will represent a discouraging dis-investment in the future of the country. It will lead in the long term to loss of competitive advantage. The future wellbeing and prosperity of British society will depend on the creative ability, innovative thinking and practical skills of its people. Our society will also depend specifically on the continued growth and profitable development of creative and cultural industries as a significant sector in the economy. The arts provide a conduit that enables children and young people to engage with activities and experiences that promote the particular practical and cognitive development that will support these future national demands.

1.5. We anticipate the impact of the funding cuts will be significant with the following consequences:

· A reduction in the scale and scope of arts provision in many schools - they will not have the resources to commission artists, they will play safe, will put the arts back into subject silos and they will fall back on delivering a narrow and outdated canon with little exploration or understanding of contemporary or even recent arts practice.

· Our society will become a less exciting, inspiring and challenging place for young people’s learning and for teachers’ professional development. Children’s introduction to arts and heritage and the subsequent deepening of their understanding and appreciation of it will be greatly impoverished. There is already evidence that arts organisations are cutting their education or learning budgets to cope with recent and anticipated reductions in funding.

· The large body of valuable professional development that is being supported through this work is likely to stop. The promotion of reflective practice, enquiry based learning and action research as professional learning is likely to stop. Schools will revert to buying in expensive short-term solutions rather than developing their own deep learning.

· Arts delivery and development organisations will play safe – they will develop workshops and practices that stay within boundaries rather than being innovative. The opportunity that programmes such as Creative Partnerships create to irrigate the whole curriculum with creative approaches to teaching and learning will be curtailed. They will look to develop and sell services to schools that give coverage rather than quality, with young people having taster sessions rather than pursuing the arts in any real depth.

· Sole practitioners and small arts organisations will be unable to maintain their practice. The momentum that has recently been built in the sector will be dissipated and the energy, skills and knowledge that have been carefully nurtured will disappear.

· Where there is funding it is likely to be for short term interventions at the expense of longer term funding that enables programmes and projects to reach maturity – short term funding for set-up is expensive and if not followed through, is a poor use of resources.

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

2.1. The number, range and scale of arts organisations are both strengths and weaknesses, with a high level of variety and innovation but with organisational overlaps of function and cost. Small organisations or sole traders are often very flexible and responsive and can tailor their work to the immediate needs of clients – working in close partnership and personalising their service. Often these organisations work locally and changing the ecology of each local context will have consequences – some intended and some unknown.

2.2. The ideal of people working in partnership - collaborating rather than competing, sharing resources, premises and administrative arrangements– is attractive. However, the reality of such arrangements can be problematic and very time consuming – what is saved in resources could be more than lost in people’s time and focus: investment in organisations that understand brokerage and partnership pays dividends.

2.3. The notion of bypassing any area or regional organisations and making the link directly between funders and producers or recipients and producers is also attractive –directly funding the frontline services and removing layers of bureaucracy to give greatest value for money. However, such a blanket provision would almost certainly result in poor quality work that would be shallow and partial, making no real difference to the lives of people; partly because of the paucity of individual budgets and partly because of the lack of coherence for policy design. For example, giving small amounts of funding to schools for arts provision would probably not be used effectively and if not ring-fenced, would in some cases not be used for the intended purpose.

Given the above, what can be done?

2.4. Linking projects and programmes at source – for example the work of Creative Partnerships, the Arts Award and Artsmark could be much more effective if combined and promoted as a coherent package for schools from one organisation rather than from a number of different organisations competing for the same funding or clients.

2.5. A cost effective model would be regionally based umbrella organisations that take responsibility for particular areas of practice, which have a core team and are both the conduits for national or regional funding and the central development agencies that quality assure the work. For example, arts provision for many children and young people is already managed by a number of agencies – Youth Music, Creative Partnerships and the Arts Award. Creating one agency with a remit for children and young people in the region could be more cost effective and would provide a coherent direction for arts development. The wider arts provision agencies that have education as a part of their portfolio but not as their main raison d’etre – museums, galleries, theatres, dance companies - would then have a clear route for developing, coordinating and promoting their work for children and young people. Regionally based umbrella organisations are also best placed to be key providers of professional development for the sector – from child protection to reflective practice. However, combining or merging agencies would be a challenging process because of the differing status of the existing organisations- which include charities, trusts, membership organisations and voluntary sector groups.

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

3.1. This will vary depending on the sector. Funding for work with children and young people in the arts and heritage has been supported by public funds, but from a range of different sources. Without sustained investment from the public sector it is unlikely that this work will be sustainable.

3.2. Funding going into the arts is often a spring board for other matched funding to come into the sector. For example the Creative Partnerships direct cash investment into schools is matched by the schools – putting a further 33% into the externals cost and funding 100% of their staff time. CapeUK has also managed to draw in further funding from Local Authorities and Health Authorities.

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

4.1. There are a number of competing priorities around allocation of funding that need to be better balanced; transparency, fairness and openness needs to be balanced with cost effectiveness and access. Open competitive calls for funding result in a huge investment of time in applying – these costs need to be met from the sector’s overall income and form part of organisation’s overheads: finding ways of reducing this will be important. A grants system, with agreed outcomes but flexibility for delivery is usually preferable to a contract system, which has specific and reductive outputs and little flexibility for design of delivery. Such flexibility leads to much more innovative, sustained and high quality work.

4.2. The demands from funding agencies need to be simplified so that administration can be both effective and efficient. Current Arts Council systems for managing grant funding are effective, ensuring both accountability and flexibility. However, this is not the case across all sources of funding drawn on by the arts and heritage sectors each of which has different reporting arrangements.

4.3. Where funding is short-term and any continuation is contingent on proving impact, a considerable percentage of the funding is spent on gathering, analysing and reporting data.

4.4. Where government devolves funding for distribution through agencies there should be direction to find simpler and more cost effective ways of administering the funds and determining impact and efficacy with an emphasis on light touch reporting, focussing on quality and depth rather than quantity and coverage.

4.5. Government should also take note of the recent consultations with charity finance groups to both simplify and reduce the burden of VAT on the charity sector.

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

5.1. The redistribution of funding within the National Lottery to increase the resource for the arts sector seems like a welcome move. However, if the increase is at the expense of health, education and the environment, provision for children and young people may not benefit. Many arts programmes and projects are focussed on changing lives and developing people and the edges of these different sectors can be very blurred. For example, Creative Partnerships programmes in schools are largely designed to improve the educational and life experience of children and young people through and in the arts. Shifting funding from one heading to another may well direct practice away from the arts for social good towards the arts for their own sake, resulting in an increase in one-off arts workshops for children. This would be a retrograde step – England is perhaps the leading country in the world for exploring depth in thinking and learning with and through the arts.

6. Do the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed?

6.1. An increasing feature of contemporary arts practice is to combine and overlay different traditional disciplines – both within the arts, wider cultural and political theory and accessing thinking and ideas from a wide range of other sectors. This is echoed in current educational thinking, with most schools finding ways of constructing a coherent curriculum offer that is consistent with their understanding of learning and their pedagogical practice. Good ideas go across disciplines and the National Lottery funding guidelines should recognise and encourage this, avoiding any silo mentality. This will help the sector innovate and explore, avoiding the common experience of applicants shoehorning great ideas and proposals into overly constrained funding opportunities. Joint funding and shared ownership of programmes and projects should be encouraged and facilitated.

7. What is 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?

7.1. The concept of having expert bodies that sit between funders and delivery is an important one. They are not simply conduits for funding – they develop, direct, influence, innovate and facilitate; this often includes accessing and building other funding sources, i.e. they raise money as well as spend it. Losing them will have a detrimental effect on the quality and sustainability of delivery.

7.2. If the arts and cultural sectors are to innovate, take risks and push boundaries; complex judgements based on strong regional and local intelligence need to be made. Such judgements need to be made by people experienced in the field with the right connections and backgrounds.

7.3. We recognise the need to save money but the challenge is to develop a pragmatic and effective route – not just for distributing funding – but for working in partnership with people to invent, challenge and develop the work.

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

8.1. An increase in incentives to encourage private donations to support the arts and heritage would be welcome. However, they should be seen as in addition to, rather than replacing, public funding and the route to access this funding needs to be effective and efficient. There is a danger that considerable amounts of time will be needed to generate these donations and that it would not prove cost effective in the long term. It should also be recognised that it can be harder for small organisations, those engaged in work with children and young people rather than the flagship arts and cultural centres in London and the metropolitan areas to attract private donations. Many businesses and philanthropists have already stated that they see their investment as additional to rather than a substitute for public funding. Many philanthropists prefer to invest in specific short term or high profile projects with visible impact and may be less likely to invest in long term or core funding.

8.2. Corporate Social Responsibility can be a powerful driver and the arts can be a high visibility way of achieving it.

9. Do there need to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations?

9.1. Encouragement for businesses to support and instigate great art and invest in the arts as a way of developing young people (the workers, audiences and consumers of the future) would be valuable. Encouragement and seed funding for business and philanthropists to invest in this way should be explored and co-ordinated to support the providers and recipients of funding.

September 2010