Report reveals huge arts funding imbalance between capital and regions

- 1 November 2013

Londoners are getting 15 times as much arts funding per head as those living in the regions, according to a new report by three distinguished arts administrators.

In 2012/13 90% of the £450m doled out by DCMS to 16 major cultural organisations directly was benefitted London; of ACE’s funding, the benefit per head to the population of London was £68.99, and to the rest of England £4.58 a head (or 6.6% of London levels).

The report, Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital, written by Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon and David Powell, and published to coincide with the announcement of the Arts Council’s restructured ten year programme, calls for a £600m National Investment Programme over the period of a parliament, funded by limiting London’s access to Arts Lottery funding for ‘new and additional activity’ to its proper per capita share (equal to that of the rest Of England) over that period. London’s overall share of public funds for the arts would reduce from 65% in 2012/13 to 55% – still seven times the level of funding per head of population in the rest of England.

The report does not make art-form distinctions, but the concentration of music in the capital is acknowledged, with four of England’s eight symphony orchestras there, along with the principal nationally-funded concert halls, and music training.

Arts Council England has also unveiled a new version of its ten year strategy plan, Great art for everyone. First published in 2010, the new framework includes museums and libraries for which ACE has since taken on responsibility.

The new framework has the same five goals – excellence, opportunity, environmental sustainability, leadership, and creative access for children and young people. – but with those unfocussed aims clarified. Although the five goals give the rationale for how ACE allocates its funding, the new framework makes clearer the evidence ACE will be looking for and how performance will be evaluated, to ‘help us and the wider arts and culture sector demonstrate the extraordinary work they do to create a thriving, vibrant cultural landscape,’ said CEO Alan Davey.

But chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette had to admit that more needs to be done to rebalance funding between London and the regions on BBC’s Today programme. ‘More should be done,’ he said. ‘Judge us in two years’ time. The trend is towards more spending in the regions and that’s what we’ll be doing’.

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