Arts Council Re-Thinks Some Cuts With Funding Announcement

By Richard Moss | 01 February 2008
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a photograph of a white building with a terrace and pond in the foreground

Pallant House Gallery in Chichester will see its ACE funding increase by 110%. © Pallant House Gallery

Arts Council England (ACE) has announced its vision for the future of the arts in England, with details of a £1.3 billion investment between 2008 and 2011.

The news will come as a relief to some, who were expecting large-scale cuts and a loss of funding, but for others it will confirm their worst fears with many smaller theatres, publishers and arts centres losing their Arts Council funding entirely.

Money will now be invested in 888 arts organisations – including 81 new organisations - whilst 753 (76%) of Arts Council regularly funded organisations will receive increases in their funding in line with, or above, inflation.

Among the biggest increases in funding in the museum and gallery sector are Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, which will see its ACE funding increase by 110%, whilst £7million is to be invested in Artists Taking the Lead as part of the Cultural Olympiad (12 artists’ commissions will create art in unexpected places across the UK).

In the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games, the capital will see a record £536 million invested between 2008 and 2011.

Elsewhere in the UK the Yorkshire Sculpture Park sees a significant increase in funding, whilst Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust (including The Millennium Galleries) will receive extra funding to support ambitious contemporary art exhibitions and related projects.

a photo of a dark building with large windows

The newly refurbished Wysing Arts Centre near Cambridge will see its funding increase under The Arts Council's new funding plans. © Wysing Arts Centre

Kettles Yard and Wysing Arts centre will also see an increase in core funding whilst the newly refurbished Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall will see its funding continue until 2011.

However, across the broader arts sector a total of 185 organisations will not have their funding renewed and 27 organisations will have their funding reduced.

“This is a radical plan... but one I firmly believe will help to make the arts in England even stronger,” said Arts Council Chair Christopher Frayling.

In line with the outgoing Culture Secretary, James Purnell’s backing of the McMaster report, which called for more excellence in the arts, ACE is now emphasising the importance of excellence throughout the arts sector.

Mr Frayling added that the new ACE plan, “backs excellence, brings in a new generation of practitioners and redistributes resources across the arts sector.”

One of the organisations to benefit from this redistribution is the Cultural Leadership Programme, a Government-funded programme to promote excellence in management and leadership within the cultural and creative sectors. It has been granted £10 million over the next three years.

The money is intended to build on the key programmes championed in the first phase of the scheme to nurture the talents of the sector and to help to maintain Britain’s position as a forerunner on the global cultural stage.

a photograph of part of a tree contained within a stone walled ditch in the outdoors

Andy Goldsworthy's Hanging Trees at Oxley Bank, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which sees a significant rise in funding. Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park

However, there will still be much disappointment across the wider arts sector as dozens of arts organisations face up to severe funding shortfalls.

News of the cuts were originally sent out in funding letters during December 2007 and ACE received 126 responses from arts organisations – many of them theatres. Following some heated discussions and further deliberation, the Arts Council has revised its funding proposals for 17 organisations including the Crafts Council.

Mr Frayling acknowledged that the funding process had been “complex and challenging” but insisted that the Arts Council had worked closely with arts organisations, listening to their concerns.

“What has emerged from this is an ambitious vision that will build on the successes of the last 10 years,” he added.