Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by artsNK (arts 220)

Context – who are artsNK?

artsNK is a dynamic team that delivers the arts development service for North Kesteven District and increasingly elsewhere across Lincolnshire. Having evolved as part of the council, we are now employed, along with our sports colleagues, by Leisure connection within an innovative ten year contract. artNK reflects the value and investment the council has placed on the arts and the contribution they can make to the delivery of other service objectives. We are currently undergoing an Organisational Development review, alongside the local authority cultural services review, which is designed to ensure we are best placed to meet the demands of the coming years.

· 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;

The recent cut has largely been digested without consequence, certainly for the smaller organisations here in rural Lincolnshire. Larger, city based organisations, where the aggregate amount is much bigger, will no doubt have found it more difficult.

In the longer term, deeper cuts will have a more drastic effect. There is a long- standing imbalance between levels of investment in arts in cities and in rural areas, which leaves us balanced precariously, in danger of going over the edge.

We can see already in neighbouring authorities, that funding in arts provision has been cut as a non- statutory service, inevitably loosing out when difficult decisions have to be made. Most Arts Development Officer and Cultural Officer posts have already gone, rural arts centres closed and projects cut back. The very real danger is that with further cuts and no protection offered to arts funding, cultural provision will disappear from rural areas, leaving village and town residents excluded, forced to drive hundreds of miles to access building based, centralised provision.

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

Here in Lincolnshire, as in the rest of the country, arts organisations have not been sitting with our heads in the sand or been painting protest banners, blaming others for our economic predicament. We live in the real world and recognise the need to demonstrate value for money and cost effectiveness. We believe money invested in the arts delivers, as every evaluation and survey shows, impacting positively on economic, health and social development targets. Gone are the days of art for arts sake. Arts organisations have grown to realise they have to deliver in return for their public funding.

Over the last year Lincolnshire has looked at, and started to realise, where we can get best value from local authority and government investment in the arts by working together and by sharing resources, skills and expertise.

Each organisation has evolved separately to take its place in the counties arts ecology and it was easy to think that our separateness was essential to the artistic product delivered. Over the last year, spearheaded through the Lincolnshire One Thrive Organisational Development review process, the county arts organisations have grown to realise this structure is outdated and is not sustainable. Like other local authority service areas, we have been looking at where savings can be made or improvements delivered through collaboration, and have started to make the necessary structural changes to reshape the counties arts ecology.

There is however a very real danger that if resources are withdrawn before we have been able to implement the changes that would make us more robust and able to survive, the whole thing would fall apart mid evolutionary change.

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

The level of public subsidy of the arts should have a direct relationship to the value of what is delivered. Projects that contribute to societies need, be it social, economic or health related, justify investment from the public purse. But this formula should also be applied to the private sector. Businesses benefit from a healthy culture and a happy community – people want to live and work in places that have a vibrant cultural life – so businesses wishing to expand should be required to invest. Individuals benefit from taking part in art projects, so should be expected to make a contribution in proportion to sky TV subscription. The arts have proven that they can shape effective programmes that overlap with the agendas and purposes of a wide range of charities, trusts and agencies. These should recognise the value artists and arts organisations make, and be encouraged to fund them accordingly.

The future of arts funding is therefore in a robust formula that shares the responsibility of funding with all those who gain value, either directly or indirectly.

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

It is the one that has evolved, so it is the best starting point on offer. Any wholesale change risks chucking out the baby with the bath water. Arts organisations are capable of change, they can be given a task to respond to need within parameters, and they will come up with an answer. The purpose of government and perhaps local authority funding, is to get as much resource to the point of delivery as possible with minimum spillage or evaporation. ACE has proven it can do this, so unless there is a new form of watertight organisation on the shelf, it should be the trusted to carry on.

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

The diversion of funds to the Olympics meant smaller projects lost out, and particularly, in our rural district, those that were grown locally, at a community level, disappeared.

What happens when a field is cleared and left fallow? Wild flowers bloom, age old seeds take root, poppies and willow herb flower and enrich the landscape.

The Olympiad represents a fantastic harvest, but the rural landscape will be more colourful when the funding trickles back down to the grass roots.

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

If the plan is to return the funds to the original "good causes" then no. If it isn’t, then yes they need to be reviewed. The arts can survive, just about, if the lottery resource is available to rejuvenate thirsty organisations "just in time." The best strategic plan would be to make sure key organisations are sustained to get through the drought and be able to rejuvenate the sector once the Lottery funds begin to flow again.

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

Yes because we all, individuals, public and private sector, have a vested interest in creating a balanced, happier, society. If the England team are winning, we celebrate; we feel healthier and happier and spend more. It is in the interests of all business (except perhaps funeral directors and tissue producers) to build societies that are culturally aware and active and happy. They should fund arts organisations in proportion to the value they draw from there programmes, visible and obvious as well as less tangible.

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


September 2010