The Spending Review

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the whys and wherefores of arts funding but over the last few months I’ve picked up a general sense that there’s likely to be some cuts in the offing. This was all slightly crystalized in the current newsletter from the Arts Council West Midlands (emailed in Word format, natch) where they write:

We are currently working to increase the profile of the arts with HM Treasury in light of the Spending Review 2007. This spending round is likely to be tight, and we are campaigning for an inflationary increase in funding for the arts. This will cost the Government just an extra £12 million a year over the next three years, but is crucial for us to be able to continue funding arts organisations in the region, as well as satisfying the demand for funding through our Grants for the arts scheme. You can help us in our campaign by writing to your local MP to highlight the value of the arts in your area. If you are interested in doing this, we can give you contact details and advice on key messages to get across. For more information please contact Sarah Herbert at Arts Council England, West Midlands, phone 0121 631 5721, email

The Arts Council’s own strategy for the spending review is here and makes for potentially interesting reading.

Creative industries in the UK are growing by 6% a year, more than any other sector, and our annual exports in cultural goods amount to £11.6 billion. Britain’s dynamic cultural life helped London to win the race to host the 2012 Olympics and our publicly-funded arts companies will play a major role in delivering the ‘cultural olympiad’ fesitval across the country during the Games.

I like how they tied that into the Olympics. Better to ride the juggernaut than get crushed by it.

More seriously, their key messages are as follows:

  • The arts are thriving thanks to increased Government investment over the last 10 years
  • Our arts organisations are among the best in the world and we want them to stay that way
  • The 2012 Olympics will be a cultural, as well as a sporting, festival and the arts sector will be decisive in delivering that cultural dimension
  • Risking the financial stability of arts organisations threatens further growth
  • A “flat real” (or inflation) increase will only cost an additional £12 million per year over the three-year period 2008–2011
  • The arts are for everyone – access to the arts and participation should be available to all

To find out who your MP is and then contact them the best place to start is by entering your postcode into