Arts Council England Announce Shock Levelling Up Measures




Arts Council England has announced a £43.5 million shift in funding as part of the Government’s pet project ‘Levelling up’. ACE is the main organisation distributing grants to arts, culture, and creativity in England. It will now devote more funding to projects and institutions out of London spreading funds across the country. The deepest cuts will affect several London-based institutions, including Camden Arts Centre, which will lose £319,673 a year; the Crafts Council £280,964, the ICA £184,131; the Serpentine Galleries £485,725 and the Southbank Centre will be cut by £1.9m. 

Many of our world-leading cultural organisations will be left devastated by this announcement – Mayor Sadiq Khan

One of the other shock results was the announcement that the English National Opera (ENO) were among those no longer receiving any ACE funding.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said, “Many of our world-leading cultural organisations will be left devastated by this announcement of over £50m worth of government cuts to London’s arts funding. These cuts could not have come at a worse time as arts organisations already face a triple whammy of spiralling operating costs, soaring energy bills, and the impact of both the pandemic and the cost of the living crisis on audience figures.”

The plan details its new national portfolio of funded organisations for 2023-26. From Stoke to Slough, Gloucester to Wigan, the Arts Council’s Levelling Up for Culture Places will see a 95% increase in investment, with 78 designated towns and cities to receive £43.5 million annually for the next three years.

There will be a 20% increase in organisations delivering creative and cultural activity for children and young people, including joiners to the portfolio such as Midlands-based MISHMASH, who introduce pre-schoolers to classical music, and an increase in funding for the renowned Grimm and Co in Rotherham, who nurture children’s creativity and writing.

Overall, there will be an investment in a richly varied mix of organisations: Established icons such as the Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company; a boost for the best of our museums and libraries with the newly funded National Football Museum in Manchester and Gloucestershire Libraries joining; and ambitious pioneers and innovators such as Ballet Black, Manchester Collective, Open Sky Theatre, Touretteshero and Stanley Halls.

In total, 990 organisations will receive a share of £446 million (each year), ensuring that more people in more places can find fantastic, fulfilling art and culture on their doorsteps.

In conversations and research with the public over the past five years, ACE have heard again and again that people want and need easy access to meaningful, impactful cultural events and creative activities in the places where they live. With this Portfolio, Arts Council England has focused on investing to make sure that as many people as possible in England – no matter where they come from or what their circumstances – can get hold of the very best of art and culture on their high streets and in the community spaces of their villages, towns and cities. The latest round of funding will benefit arts organisations, museums, and libraries in every corner of the country, from Northumberland to Norfolk, and from Cornwall to Cumbria, with a clear focus on ensuring that investment is concentrated in those places that, historically, have been underserved.

As well as renewing support for brilliant, established organisations that have done so much to build England’s reputation as one of the most creative countries in the world, we are investing in 276 new organisations of all shapes and sizes. As well as reaching new audiences, they will also find and nurture the next generation of cultural and artistic talent, increasing opportunity for people of all communities and backgrounds.

Overall, the new portfolio is richer and more varied than ever before. From today, prominent organisations such as the Royal Opera House and Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Bristol Old Vic will be joined by newcomers as eclectic and exciting as Blackpool Illuminations (to commission contemporary artists and support talent development for a network of light festivals and artists across the North); Unlimited in Yorkshire (who commission extraordinary work by disabled artists including visual arts and theatre); The Postal Museum (which Hosts interactive displays including tours of London’s hidden tunnels on the Mail Rail), and into Bodmin (a community arts organisation in an old library building in the heart of Cornwall).

Levelling Up for Culture Places (LUCPs), such as Blackburn with Darwen, North Devon and Mansfield, will receive £43.5 million yearly – a 95% increase in investment in these areas. By funding new organisations in new places, we are delivering on the vision set out in our strategy, Let’s Create: that everyone, everywhere, deserves to benefit from public investment in culture and creativity.

Arts Council England Chair, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “The Arts Council “simply had to make some very invidious choices about where we fund”. “The position was made relatively clear when the secretary of state instructed us to take money out of London, and also encouraged us to take money from central London to some parts of the city that hadn’t previously had funding. “As well as continuing our commitment to our many established and renowned cultural organisations, I am deeply proud of the support we will be giving to those new organisations which will help ignite creativity across the country. We are facing economic pressures, but this funding is about an investment in our future. This portfolio will support the next generation of visionary inventors, makers, performers and artists. In particular, the growth of our funding for organisations that support and develop work for children represents a profoundly important long-term investment in our country’s talent.”

Arts Council England Chief Executive, Darren Henley, said: “Together, each of the 990 organisations that have been offered to fund today will contribute to a rich, varied and genuinely national portfolio. This is our widest-ever spread of investment across the country, ensuring that many more people will have access to a broader choice of exceptional art, culture and creative opportunities on their doorsteps. We are in tough times, but we must remember creativity brings extraordinary dividends, boosting our country’s economic growth, creating jobs, bringing communities closer together, and making us happier as individuals. Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits it gets, and with this investment, we believe we’ve taken a decisive step towards making that vision a reality.”

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Thanks to this new government funding package, spreading more money to more communities than ever before, people living in areas from Wolverhampton to Wigan and Crawley to Chesterfield will now get to benefit from the profound economic and social rewards culture can bring.

“We continue to support our icons such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Shakespeare Company, but today’s announcement will see organisations in places all too often overlooked get the support they need to transform access to the arts for everyone – no matter where they live.”

Photo: © Artlyst 2020

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