Tories to Slash and Merge Funding for the Arts

The Bucks Stop Here:

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s 55 public bodies are set to be merged, abolished or streamlined as part of the Government’s drive to cut costs and increase transparency, accountability and efficiency, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today. In other words the cull has begun.The Arts are always an easy target and this new administration will waste no time in undoing all that was achieved in the last decade.

Mr Hunt has proposed a number of changes, including:

– abolishing the UK Film Council and establishing a direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute. This would support front-line services while ensuring greater value for money. Government and Lottery support for film will continue;

– abolishing the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to focus efforts on front-line, essential services and ensure greater value for money. Government support for museums, libraries and archives will continue; and

– merging UK Sport and Sport England, creating a more effective structure to deliver elite sport success and a wider sports legacy from the 2012 games.

Some key functions carried out by these bodies would be transferred to other, existing organisations. DCMS will do further work over the summer to finalise the details and timing of these changes. It will also continue to look at its other arm’s length bodies and explore further opportunities to improve accountability and efficiency. Accountability is always double speak for deep cuts. This is the start of a new era. All new governments need to mark their territory and it looks like the Arts are going to be a soft target.

I think as you get older you have the ability to second guess the climate  and this one has come as no surprise to me. The Government had made various comments in their manifesto outlining their attitude towards the Arts in general and the Tories are no friend of contemporary and emerging art. They view it as disposable. I predict that monies will be channeled into heritage projects such as the restoration of historic buildings and lets not forget the Olympics are going to absorb most of the existing lottery funds, which is why so much has remained unallocated.



Monday 26th JULY 2010

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt):

DCMS is responsible for a number of sectors which people are passionate about.  From sports through to television, and live music through to museums, DCMS and its public bodies make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives.
Despite being one of the smaller Government Departments, we are responsible for a network of more than fifty public bodies. In my first few months as Secretary of State I have made it my priority to examine our network of public bodies critically with the aim of improving accountability, transparency and value for money.
In line with the commitments set out in the Coalition Document, I have been applying the Government’s agreed tests to each of our bodies: does it perform a technical function?; does it need to be politically impartial?; and does it act independently to establish facts?

This forms part of the work being undertaken across Government, and led by the Cabinet Office, to restore proper accountability for activities funded by public money. Public bodies which do not meet one of the three tests outlined will be bought back into departments or devolved if their function is necessary or abolished if not. This work will reduce the number of public bodies, increase the transparency and accountability of the remaining few, and ensure more effective delivery of public services.

As a result of this review, I am today announcing my intention to make a number of changes.  This will include:

• the abolition of the UK Film Council;

• the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council;

• the merger of UK Sport and Sport England;

• the merger of the National Lottery Commission and Gambling Commission1;

• the abolition of the Advisory Council on Libraries and the wind up of the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel.

• the abolition of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites and the declassification of the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships.

• Declassifying the Theatres Trust so it can act as an independent statutory advisory body.

1) Subject to a business case. Further work will be done in discussion with the bodies concerned and other interested parties over the summer to finalise the details and timing of these proposals.
Where bodies are to be abolished we will look to transfer key functions to other existing bodies so as to continue to support our sectors and preserve the necessary expertise.  In the case of the Film Council, for example, this will include their current responsibilities for the distribution of Lottery funding for films, which will be maintained, as well as support for the certification process which is critical to the film tax relief, which will also be maintained.   We will maintain a strong relationship with the British Film Institute.
We will also continue to explore further opportunities to improve the accountability and coherence of our public bodies landscape. We are looking closely at our responsibility for Heritage and the Built Environment and so are currently considering the role and remit of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Additionally, we are considering the role of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and exploring opportunities to consolidate its functions. We will also be discussing with the Church of England the merits of declassifying the Churches Conservation Trust so it has greater operational freedom.In addition we have reviewed the status of the two public bodies set up to help us deliver a successful games in 2012 – the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Olympic Lottery Distributor – and have concluded there is no need to change our existing plans to wind up these organisations following the Games.
The Olympic Games provide a huge opportunity to boost inbound and domestic tourism and we continue to explore the best way of realising our ambitious goals in this area.   As part of this we are considering the status, role and functions of Visit England and Visit Britain.  A final decision will be made on this in the autumn as part of the Spending Review.
Any necessary legislative changes will be made through the Cabinet Office Public Bodies Bill, which is due to be introduced in the autumn.
Where proposed changes have implications for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we will work closely with them to finalise proposals.


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