Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by High Peak Community Arts (arts 199)


· Arts Council and Local Authority funding enables this organisation to lever in funding for projects from non-government funds.

· These projects develop audiences and increase access to the arts for hard to reach groups and encourage new creative arts practitioners.

· The arts have an important part to play as a contribution to the cohesion and regeneration of communities.

· This organisation has a lean structure already and does not see much potential for economies of scale.

· A small amount of public funding has enabled this organisation to deliver a range of projects that have the potential to save public money elsewhere.

· The Arts Council provides the best structure for arts funding distribution.

· Increases in National Lottery funding are unlikely to successfully replace Arts Council revenue funding.

· Business and philanthropic funding is unlikely to be directed at organisations that do not have a high profile venue based programme.

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. High Peak Community Arts is an organisation whose remit is to enable people to participate in the arts particularly those who may not otherwise. It has a different business model than a theatre or venue with box office revenues. Arts Council and Local Authority revenue funding provides essential support for the infrastructure of the organisation, enabling it to raise an equivalent amount of project funding. Without this revenue funding for its core infrastructure, there would be no way of accessing funding for the variety of projects it offers. Arts Council funding, in particular, gives an organisation a profile that enables it to secure other important project funding. It also enables the organisation to use its Arts Council money as match funding for many other income streams. High peak Community Arts uses its project funding to work with disadvantaged young people, elders, disabled people, people with mental health issues and people in isolated rural communities.

2. This work develops audiences, increases access to the arts for hard to reach groups and encourages new creative arts practitioners. High Peak Community Arts is able to bring both new talent and new audiences into the sector, both of which are vital to sustain it and allow it to play an important role in Britain’s economic recovery. The arts are thriving because sustained investment has been made over the last 15 years. This investment has enabled the creative economy to grow over this period. Arts and culture are also central to tourism in the UK, which is a vital export earner for the UK economy.

3. The arts also encourage volunteering. Recent case studies from this organisation’s arts programme include successes:

· one individual from a disabled adults’ project is now voluntarily running his own pottery project helping others

· students from a local secondary school who participated in a music project are now working with local primary schools helping young children develop their talents.

4. The arts also have an important part to play as a contribution to the cohesion and regeneration of communities. In particular, participatory arts projects have the capacity to strengthen communities and enable them to build aspirations for the future. Participants gain from:

· an increase in self confidence

· a general well-being through self-expression

· accessing new social networks and making new friends

· giving something back to their community

· an awareness of the creative industries including the possibilities for future employment within them.

5. High Peak Community Arts is able to provide numerous examples of people who have accessed its disabled adults’ arts programmes and, through that experience, have been able to transform their lives from feeling isolated and depressed to feeling that they are valued members of their communities. Responses to participation in projects include:

· "It’s opened up a whole new world"

· "It’s great feeling part of a team"

· "I’ve gained confidence and friends"

· "Made me human again, not just a nuisance"

· "Got me out of my doom and gloom, got me interested, going out and doing things".

6. Examples of how the arts have been used as a vehicle for communities achieving change include:

· Imaginative and innovative ways of gathering people’s views at community consultations (e.g. Video diary projects)

· Stimulating participation in delivering lasting improvements in local environments. (e.g. Friends of Station groups)

7. The production of participatory arts projects within communities provides a link between development of the arts and the regeneration of that community. These activities enable people

· to identify the arts as part of their lives – that progressive and high quality arts are for them and not just for an elite elsewhere

· to feel that they are giving something back to the community and that they have not been disenfranchised from any process of community regeneration

· to feel that they are making a contribution to a cohesive and engaged society.

Outcomes include those that save public money elsewhere:

· reduction in unemployment

· less need for access to mental health services

· less need for access to general health services.

8. Cuts from central and local government will come on top of the difficult climate for accessing project funding. (Charitable Trusts have less investment income and there may be less public funding for projects that have a social impact.)

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

9. High Peak Community Arts is the only participatory arts organisation working in the High Peak district of Derbyshire. It already works in partnership with non-arts organisations to deliver projects. It is a lean organisation with a clover leaf structure to maximise its productivity and flexibility. It collaborates with other arts organisations on general policy development and strategy for the arts, and with both arts and non-arts organisations in the delivery of projects. It sees the potential for increased collaboration with other arts and non-arts organisations to deliver future projects, but it sees no possible savings from the sharing of administrative or management with other similar organisations. This is particularly relevant for organisations that are geographically distant. Whilst some work within an organisation can be outsourced or shared with other organisations most of the administrative and management activities depend on interaction with other workers and access to office based information systems. Whilst our organisation is open to a reappraisal of its operating model, with only the equivalent of 2.3 full time workers, any significant reduction in its core staff would result in a situation where staffing of the organisation was no longer viable.

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

10. The arts budget is very small already – 17p per person per week is the figure that has been quoted. Certainly the experience of High Peak Community Arts is that a small amount of public funding has enabled the organisation to deliver a range of ongoing projects that have reached groups of people who would not otherwise have had these experiences. There have been a range of outcomes that save public money elsewhere including the reduction of unemployment and a fall in numbers of people who need access to mental health and general health services. Because High Peak Community Arts is a very tight ship, a significant and sustained reduction of its public funding would result in a closing of the organisation and a cessation of its activities completely. All the benefits that are described above would be lost.

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

11. It is a good strategy to keep the Arts Councils independent of political interference. It enables the Arts Councils to distribute funds to organisations that they feel are best placed to develop the arts and a cultural economy. Regularly funded organisations such as ourselves have been seen as partners in the development of the arts. Regularly funded organisations are closely monitored and reviewed annually to ensure that the public investment is made wisely and the achievement of organisations is in line with a national and regional strategy. That is why the Arts Councils are so important. We understand that the bulk of the Arts Councils’ overall spend is re-distributed to organisations for front line delivery.

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

12. Any greater distribution of National Lottery funds to arts organisations has to be welcomed provided that organisations like ourselves who are managing projects that have a social, community or health related benefit in addition to an artistic benefit are not then excluded from the non-arts National Lottery funds. High Peak Community Arts is currently in receipt of both Grants for the Arts and Big Lottery funding for its projects. Both of these funding streams required much research and development work to access in the first place. Typically, it is possible for 12 to 18 months to pass between the inception of an idea to the successful award of a grant from these streams. So any increase in Lottery funding will not be able to replace reductions in revenue funding that occur sooner. It is unlikely, also, that Lottery funding will be able to replace the more assured funding structure that the Arts Councils and Local Authorities have been able to provide organisations.

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

13. There is a specific problem with the Awards for All fund. Projects that engage people in the arts are now excluded from the fund and re-directed to Grants for the Arts. The Awards for All fund was able to fund 100% of a project but the Grants for the Arts will only fund a maximum of 90% of a project. This has had an impact on the small community organisations that had hitherto been able to access this funding stream to run arts projects within their communities. These organisations do not have the types of match funding that an established arts organisation would be likely to have access to.

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;

14. UK film council has brought in so much funding from elsewhere to stimulate this sector. We do not have sufficient knowledge about the Museum, Libraries and Archive Council to answer this.

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

15. Private funding already plays an important role in funding the arts. But only some arts organisations receive this funding, which has traditionally been provided for high profile venue centred arts organisations, where that funding provides publicity and promotion for that business. We do not see that businesses will have a long term and sustained role in providing funding for the arts other than the funding that they already provide. Whilst the potential may exist to make philanthropic giving more effective for the arts, leaving the funding of the arts to the whims of business leaders cannot be a sustainable way to have a long term funding strategy for the arts. Clearly, philanthropic giving may continue to be an important funding stream for some arts organisations, it is difficult to see how this type of funding strategy is going to be of help to organisations such as ourselves that have a solid social programme but do not necessarily have a very visible product.

16. It is a more effective model for a business to create a charitable trust to distribute funds as part of a social programme. Predominately, charitable trusts have clear priorities so that applicants are able to judge the likelihood for success. But these priorities are made by the trustees of each trust and there is currently no joined-up thinking to ensure that charitable trusts are able to provide a coherent range of support for any particular sector.

17. We do not see the capacity of the business and private sector to make up any shortfall in the current public funding structure.

Whether there needs to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations.

18. Private donations are always gratefully received but, as in the answer to the above question, we do not see this strategy as a substitute for the funding systems that are currently in place.

September 2010