In the past, when each new government spending budget is announced most of us grumble a little about the rise in alcohol and cigarette tax. and quickly forget all about it. But this year’s budget speech attracted more public attention than ever. It is more than obvious to say that the decisions made will directly affect all of us during these grim days of recession, not least those of us reliant on arts funding.
Before Wednesday’s announcement those in the know were predicting the fate of the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and guessing the arts were unlikely to be spared in the predicted £15bn of public spending cuts. The largest chunk of DCMS spending goes on Arts Council England, in which cuts up to £14m were being expected.
The outcome for the Arts Council is a £4 million cut in funding, which they responded with this statement:
It is a shame that the government has found it necessary to cut funding to culture but we will do our best to protect the interests of audiences who deserve the best art there is.
That is why, in implementing these cuts, we will not reduce our planned investment in the arts organisations we fund on a regular basis – many of whom have already planned against expected income in 2010/11. Instead we will reconsider our existing and planned new projects and look to find savings there.
This is a short term solution but not without its implications as these projects are our investment in the development of the arts.
The arts are far more than a luxury add-on – they are quality of life and, with sufficient public investment, they can be central to economic recovery.
NB: The latest £4million cut is in addition to the £6.5million per annum savings in the Arts Council’s running costs announced as part of the original settlement.
The statement is fairly generic, so what this will mean to the West Midlands remains to be seen but it is reassuring to know that currently funded organisations won’t see a reduction in funds.