Funding of the arts and heritage - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents


Written evidence submitted by engage (arts 46)

  This response is sent on behalf of engage, the National Association for Gallery Education. engage is the lead organisation in the UK and internationally supporting education and learning in galleries and visual arts organisations. engage has more than 1,000 members in some 330 organisations ranging from the national museums to local authority and independent galleries and visual arts organisations. engage focuses on advocacy, professional development, dissemination of practice, projects and research. engage works with gallery educators, artists and teachers and with children, young people and adults through its projects and research.

SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS IN SUBMISSION

    — Research demonstrates that children and young people gain huge educational and social benefits from access to the visual arts and artists. A decrease in funding to galleries and visual arts organisations will result in less education and learning resources for children and young people.

    — Arts organisations work in strategic partnerships and have effective networks that enable audiences to access high quality art and learning experiences.

    — Plural funding for the arts is healthy—funding from the public sector attracts funding from other sources to the arts. Private donors and the business sector are not interested in "plugging the gap" left by a reduction in public investment in the arts. Private donors and the business sector are interested in supporting "success" and are likely to focus their support on high profile urban arts activities. Public funding is necessary to provide a cultural offer across the UK.

What impact recent, and future, spending cuts from central and local Government will have on the arts and heritage at a national and local level

  1.  Reduced public investment in the arts could decrease children, young people and adults' access to the arts. Galleries and visual arts organisations may struggle to sustain education and learning programmes. This will impact on the capacity of galleries and visual arts organisations to work with audiences in particular with education organisations.

  2.  The Ofsted report "Drawing Together: Art, Craft and Design in Schools" (2009) argues that standards of teaching and learning are raised by schools working with artists and visual arts organisations and recommends that every child have a direct educational experience with an artist and art in a gallery or visual arts venue. The report suggests that not enough schools are working with artists and galleries and argues for more professional development for teachers to support them to work with artists and galleries. Watch this Space, the professional development programme for teachers and artists delivered by engage since 2004 as part of the Strategic Commissioning Programme in Museum and Gallery Education, funded through the Museums and Libraries Archives Council, is sited in the report as an example of excellent practice.

  3.  Reports such as "Get it the Power of Cultural Learning" (2009) argue that despite exemplary practice in the cultural sector in learning and education, cultural organisations could make education and learning central to their mission, thereby creating more accessible cultural organisations that deliver greater public benefit.

  4.  Research from Burns Owen Partnership of "Find Your Talent" 2010 suggests that socially privileged people are more likely to participate in cultural activities than vulnerable young people. With reduced resource for education activities, cultural organisations may struggle to engage with less privileged young people. More resource is required for cultural organisations to work with vulnerable young people than with more privileged groups. Research through programmes such as enquire, the visual arts strand of the Strategic Commissioning Programme in Museum and Gallery Education supported by the DCMS and DFS, demonstrates that young people gain enhanced self confidence and decision making skills through working with artists and galleries. These are qualities that can enable young people to make a contribution to society.

  5.  Galleries and visual arts organisations are important resources for building a healthy, responsible society. Galleries respond to the needs of a diverse range of audiences. They work proactively with audiences and respond to the different needs of older people, family groups and early years groups, as well as of the wider public. "Excellence in Schools" (1997) and research in 2010 by Creativity, Culture & Education (CCE) argue that family relationships can be developed through family learning programmes in galleries.

  6.  The cultural sector is a vital element of the UK economy. Cultural organisations play a key role in nurturing talent and encouraging young people to undertake education, employment or training in the cultural sector. The erosion of the cultural sector through a downturn in public funding will lessen the cultural sector's capacity to nurture young talent. This could have a negative impact on the UK economy and on the UK's reputation as a leading nation with high quality, innovative cultural and creative industries.

What arts organisations can do to work more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort and to make economies of scale

  7.  Membership organisations such as engage already provide a very powerful connected, active and cost affective network. engage members network and share practice through Area Groups in England. engage has the capacity to work strategically with galleries and visual arts organisations across the UK and key partners, to deliver research and projects. For example, since 2004 engage has worked with the Museums Libraries and Archives Council and with the Arts Council of England on visual arts strands of the Strategic Commissioning Programme in Museum and Gallery Education. This has developed capacity providing professional development to teachers, artists and gallery staff and has enabled children and young people to access galleries and the visual arts, many of them for the first time. Work across the UK has included research on the Foundation Phase curriculum and a programme supporting access to galleries and museums by disabled and deaf people. Partners in these programmes have included the Welsh Assembly Government and Creative Scotland.

  8.  Galleries, visual arts organisations, museums and education organisations are already collaborating together effectively. For example, engage works with national organisations such as Tate, the Crafts Council and the Museums Association as well as with other membership organisations such as AXIS (a digital listing service for artists) and NSEAD (the subject association for art and design teachers).

  9.  There is potential for arts organisations to work in partnership to duplicate effort and save resources. This could include sharing backroom services (eg aspects of finance, website development and membership services) and collaborating on the delivery of programmes and activities.

  10.  Sharing services and collaborating enables organisations to save resource, share skills and to reach wider and more diverse audiences. However, organisations such as engage also have specialist knowledge, expertise and a remit which is valued by the visual arts and education communities and brings benefits to audiences of the visual arts. While it is important to avoid duplication of delivery within the cultural sector in a period of limited resources, it is equally vital to recognise the distinctive and vital role that individual cultural organisations play.

What level of public subsidy for the arts and heritage is necessary and sustainable?

  11.  The arts have enjoyed a period of sustained growth since the 1990s. Small amounts of public subsidy have encouraged the arts to flourish and have been matched through funding from trusts and foundations, the private sector and individuals. Research by Arts and Business and the Arts Council of England demonstrates that the private sector, individuals, trusts and foundations will not step in to pick up a funding shortfall for the arts left by downturn in public sector funding. Trusts, foundations, the private sector and individual donors have their own agendas for supporting the arts. These may not be in tandem with the priorities for the arts set by government or the respective arts councils. It is difficult to predict the amount of funding from outside of the public sector that may come to the arts and how sustainable this is. It is very difficult for arts organisations to plan and work strategically when it is hard to anticipate the amount of funding available in the future.

Whether the current system, and structure, of funding distribution is the right one

  12.  The UK has an international reputation for high quality arts and cultural provision and an "arms length" funding system which makes a clear distinction between political ideology and funding decisions for the arts and culture. The Arts Council of England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council of Northern Ireland all play an important role in administering funding to the arts sector. These organisations have recently under gone significant restructuring and review which has lead to a reduction in staff and therefore capacity. Staff within these organisations have specialist knowledge of the arts together with an overview of cultural provision and government policies which can enable them to make strategic decisions which can enable cultural provision in the UK to flourish.

What impact recent changes to the distribution of National Lottery funders will have on arts and heritage organisations

  13.  The review of the distribution of the National Lottery could mean an increase in funding from the Lottery to the cultural sector. This could augment funding from the public sector. Given the fragility of funding from other sources such as the private sector and individuals this is a hugely important source of funding for the cultural sector.

  14.  Public funding has been shown to encourage philanthropic support—increased lottery funds will enhance the cultural sector's ability to gain funding from individuals. Lottery funding is also essential for projects and programmes that traditionally find it harder to gain funding from individuals—for instance, those working with offenders, vulnerable young people or refugees.

Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding needs to be reviewed

  15.  The current guidelines for the Arts Council of England from DCMS are very broad. The guidelines particularly focus on using Lottery funds to support programmes that encourage access to the arts, especially for non-traditional arts audiences and for children and young people; to nurture talent; to support local community initiatives; and to encourage volunteering and participation in the arts. These are very important funding principles which support and enable access to the arts, particularly for audiences new to the arts. Participation, working with non-traditional arts audiences, nurturing talent and engaging with communities are all areas that education and learning programmes in galleries and visual arts organisations focus on.

The impact of recent changes to DCMS arms length bodies—in particular the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

  16.  As stated above, engage has worked with the Museums Libraries and Archives Council to deliver a professional development programme for teachers and artists. The MLA provides valuable services supporting access to museums, libraries and archives and developing professional standards within these organisations. Programmes such as Learning Links, delivered by MLA for the Strategic Commissioning Programme in Museum and Gallery Education, support non-visiting schools to access museums, libraries and archives. Without the support provided though MLA there is a threat that small and medium scale organisations who particularly benefit from the support of a national organisation may struggle to provide high quality learning and educational services—and indeed to operate. The UK's cultural framework is enhanced by having organisations of differing scales serving regions and sub-regions, as well as those with a national remit. MLA has had a role in brokering partnerships between national institutions and regional ones, increasing access and participation across the country.

Whether business and philanthropists can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level

  17.  Plural funding is important for the health of the cultural sector. However, recent research by the Arts Council of England and by Arts and Business suggests that the businesses and philanthropists are not interested in replacing public funding that has been withdrawn.

  18.  Businesses and philanthropists have an interest in supporting additional, rather than core, activities delivered by successful cultural organisations. Traditionally high profile cultural organisations, particularly those in London and in other major cities, have attracted support from these groups. The Arts Council of England and Arts and Business argue that this pattern is likely to continue; this would mean that medium and small-scale cultural organisations, particularly those outside major cities, are unlikely to receive significant funding from private sources.

  19.  With a decrease of public funding to the cultural sector there is a threat that while large-scale urban cultural organisations will survive, small and medium-scale organisations will not. Small and medium-scale organisations play a vital role providing a cultural infrastructure in regions and sub-regions. They provide access to the arts to students and teachers and to vulnerable groups who find it difficult to travel significant distances to larger cultural venues. The private sector and individual donors are not a reliable source of funding for the cultural sector over the long term. A cultural sector more dependent on funding from these sources with less core funding from the public sector is likely to be less robust, less able to plan strategically and for the long term and therefore represent less value for money and provide decreased public benefit.

Whether there need to be more Government incentives to encourage private donations

  20.  The Arts Council of England and Arts and Business suggest that tax incentives such as those used in the United States would stimulate giving to the cultural sector from businesses and individuals. The Government have a responsibility to work with key organisations such as the Arts Council of England to put in place incentives to encourage private philanthropy. The Arts Council of England argue that developing a culture of private philanthropy in the UK will take time. There is a danger that a drastic reduction in public investment in the arts in the short term and the absence of other funding to "plug the gap" will leave to the irrevocable erosion of the UK's arts infrastructure.

September 2010





 
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