Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Sue Cheriton (arts 178)

1.0 Summary

1.1 Funding of the Arts and Heritage Sector:

It is my view that there are growing concerns in the arts and heritage sector over the implications of budget cuts expected in 2011/12 across local authorities as part of the forthcoming spending review and the effect this will have on the sector as a whole. As an area of discretionary spend for Local Authorities, different service delivery and funding options will need to be considered to ensure the sustainability of the sector.

These include:

· Engaging in the Big Society agenda to increase capacity in the sector

· Encourage RFO’s to match fund including increases in private donations

· Consider ‘entitlement’ as an alternative funding model

· Incentivise private donations and sponsorship

· Do not underestimate the value of culture to the economy especially tourism

· Dispose of some of the assets where this is proving not to be good value for money (including rationalising collections in some cases)

2.0 Views on future funding of Arts and Heritage

2.1 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;

2.1.1 It is likely that the arts and heritage sector particularly in local government will be under pressure to find significant savings following the spending review. With projected saving of around 25% is already being planned for in many local authorities and this has focused attention of the key role of local authorities in the future and in some cases a consideration of pairing back to the statutory functional areas. In my authority the grant aided sector has been advised on the potential savings required across the authority and the impact this is likely to have. At best there maybe an expectation of 25% cuts across the board, but more likely this will focus on priority areas for Council’s, consideration of alternative funding streams including co-production opportunities, and reviewing the capital assets across sub regions at the very least.

2.1.2 The current DCMS Structural Reform Plan (July 2010) does not provide much in the way of support or direction for the arts and heritage sector. This together with the proposed reforms of the cultural agencies (particularly the potential loss of Museums, Libraries and Archive Council) suggests that art and heritage is not seen as a priority area for government, and will be giving the same message to Local Authorities as they consider reduced budgets in the spending review.

2.1.3 The future will be tough going forward for independent and local authority run establishments and organizations, and there appears to be a real appetite to consider radical change in the design and delivery of services in the culture block. The time constraints of the forthcoming funding round will not allow these to come to fruition before the spending review cut bite.

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

2.2.1 It is the belief of Torbay Council that funding is not always the answer to delivering good art and heritage product. An example is that in 2009 Torbay Council staged an ambitious arts exhibition ‘ Antony Gormley’s the Field for the British Isle on a budget of £5,000. This attracted 38,000 visitors over a six week period, engaged over 3,000 local children in education activities, sprung off other associated exhibits in other attractions in the local area, and generated an actual additional spend for tourism of £900k.

2.2.2 This was successful because a number of agency (Arts Council Collections), local government, voluntary and private sector interest groups and organizations got together to deliver something new to attract visitors. This is co-production and Big Society at its best and show that this approach can work.

2.2.3 Arts organisations will need in the future to work more collaboratively to deliver the same or more for less, they will need to consider how they can impact across other agendas such as tourism and the economy and really focus on priorities and what is important to their organizations.

2.2.4 I was personally dismayed to see in the Sunday Times on 30th August that arts organizations were against the lottery funding given to the Arts and Business organization. Private sector funding will be key, if arts and heritage organizations are to thrive in the future. I cannot understand why these organizations see the private sector as a threat. Although the UK does not have such a philanthropic society as the US (who fund more than 90% of the arts in the US according to the Sunday Times article) there could be more focus on engaging private individuals and businesses to support the arts and heritage sector.

2.3 What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable;

2.3.1 With the current economic climate local authorities will struggle to continue the level of support to arts and heritage organizations that has been enjoyed in previous years. Therefore radical change, re-prioritising against community outcomes and working closer with partners to deliver programmes and product will be inevitable.

2.3.2 The National Lottery has fuelled a capital growth in the sector over the last few years and this could be unsustainable in the future from a revenue perspective. Organisations will be required to be sustainable and should not reliant on local government funding.

2.3.3 I would suggest the level of funding should be matched against other income sources and not related to levels of expenditure as it appears. This will ensure those organizations who work hard to secure income from other sources are not disadvantaged and ensure there is joint responsibility for raising funding.

2.3.4 My concern is that regional, local and non building based activities that are not of national importance could be marginalized, if significant budget cuts are to be found from the sector. The grass roots activities, new work and innovation, often related to one off programmes and projects do more to give access to non traditional audiences than the standard RFO arts product. It would be unfair to focus on existing RFO’s at the detriment of real accessible arts in the community.

2.3.5 If we truly want to ensure the arts reach those in the wider community perhaps a radical change in the funding structure across the cultural sector should be investigated. If funding was based on ‘entitlement’ similar to individual service areas in health, on the basis of removing barriers to access to the arts – ie. Giving entitlement allocations across cultural activity for those on low income, incapacity benefit, communities with rural accessibility issues etc. This would ensure those who can afford to pay more do and those not able to access have advantages in participation dependant on their interests.

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

2.4.1 The funding government and lottery for sport and the arts are consolidated into the two agencies who also deal with policy and direction for those sectors – the Arts Council and Sport England. I have never understood why the Heritage functions have been split between HLF, MLA and English Heritage. I think consolidating the roles would better reflect the other agency positions and link funding closer to policy and direction across the board.

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

2.5.1 None that I can identify specifically.

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

2.6.1 I think a review of the Lottery Funds and assessment of what outcomes have been achieved would be a good idea. Question what has really been achieve, have people’s lives changed – how and why.

2.7 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;

I think a joint Cultural Agency be considered which encompasses all of the current agencies. The joint working arrangements between agencies since the Hodge Review has show certainly in the South West that much can be achieved by working across the sector. There is a concern that libraries and heritage will suffer if there is no intention of replacing the body within other agencies to support this part of the sector.

2.8 Private Income Sources

More could be made of private funding – individual support as well as company sponsorship. I would welcome an incentive scheme to reward those who become patrons of the arts and believe this could prove very cost effective taking state fund savings in to consideration.

The Arts and Business model could be expanded to take on this role.

September 2010