The National Campaign for the Arts has released its 2013 Arts Index ‒ ‘A measure of the vitality of Arts and Culture in England’. Made up of 20 ‘indicators’ measuring that which contributes to the arts (eg. Lottery Funding, ACE grants) and that which results from those contributions (eg audience sizes), the index tracks changes in hope that policy makers can apply coherent bases to their decisions.
Samuel West, actor and Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts, summarises some salient points from the index in his introduction:
‘In the past three years, there have been big gains in the contributions of trusts and foundations, lottery funding and the proportion of the adult population both participating in the arts and reporting that experience as high quality. The big falls have been, as expected, in Treasury funding, local government funding and business contribution to the arts. The 20 indicators can be combined into one overall figure. This year, that figure is slightly up.’
‘Local government funding for the arts has fallen by 19% in the past three years,’ continues West, ‘a proportion much greater than the savings local authorities have been asked to make. Campaigns such as My Theatre Matters have recently been set up to question these disproportionate cuts, which perhaps see the arts as a soft touch.’
‘Meanwhile, since the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the government has refocused lottery spend on the original “good causes” and investment in the arts has gone up. The increase of lottery funding is to some extent making up for the shortfall in local and central government grants. But this may not be sustainable.’
‘Although wages and savings are squeezed, there has been a slight increase in the number of adults attending an arts event. We see this as encouraging, and a vindication of the essential place art holds at the centre of a civilised society. Even in an economic downturn – or perhaps particularly in one – people need a good night out.’