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Local councils’ regular funding for arts down by 40%, says survey

31 October 2012

By: Nicola Merrifield - The Stage
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arts organisations across England and Wales are receiving 40% less regular funding from councils than last year, a recent report has claimed.

Arts Development UK has claimed in its annual survey that each local council on average has planned to spend around £165,000 on grants for regularly funded organisations in 2012/13, whereas in 2011/12 the average spend was projected as £282,000.

The report says this shows that local authorities “find it increasingly difficult to maintain regularly funded [arts] organisations”. It would also appear to indicate a shift towards grant-based models of funding.

The report also claims there is a “declining partnership” between Arts Council England or Arts Council Wales and some councils.

Of those local authorities that responded to a question about how many regularly funded organisations or national portfolio organisations were supported in partnership with the arts councils, more than a third said they did not provide this type of support.

In 2010/11, less than 15% of the local authorities surveyed said they did not support RFOs in partnership with arts councils.

Despite this decline, this year’s overall average arts budget within local authorities is similar to last year’s, at more than £380,000. The report says this suggests local authority arts funding is becoming more stable in the short term.

Jane Wilson, chair of Arts Development UK, said: “Given the pressure on their own funding… we are aware that local authorities are moving away from that recurrent funding model.”

In reference to the decline in partnerships between arts councils and some local authorities, she said: “Where RFOs lost their arts council funding, two different things have happened. Either the local authorities have continued to fund them, which means they are now not funding them in partnership with the arts councils, or they have pulled their funding.”

Wilson explained that organisations which show how their services benefit other activities supported by the local authority will be more likely to receive funding.

“There’s a real shift going on and there are opportunities as well as challenges,” she said. “Local authorities are less likely to simply fund arts activity because it is there and are more likely to link it up to other things they are trying to do. So where services have demonstrated how arts engagement links to health or regeneration, for example, they are doing better and are able to draw resources in to do their activity.”

This year’s survey results were based on a questionnaire that was sent to all local authorities in England and Wales. It had 70 responses, representing around 20% of all councils.

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