Written evidence submitted by Horse +
Bamboo Theatre (arts 10)
(a) If cuts are to be made, they need to
(b) Core funding: local/national government
funding is frequently the organisation's only core funding, although
not usually 100% of its overhead needs. But it is the bedrock
which pays for the time to create more and diverse income streams.
(c) The impact of cuts on small-medium sized
organisations is disproportionately large.
(d) The impact of arts organisations locally
and nationally extends far beyond the work itself into a raft
of socio-cultural-economic fields.
(e) Arts organisations exist on a jigsaw
puzzle of funding arrangements, which are inter-dependent and
reliant upon complex match funding. However, funding from central
and/or local government is a crucial element because it indicates
a certain quality standing and that the organisation is aware
of and performing to outcomes and outputs.
(f) Funding decisions need to be transparent.
(g) There is not yet a widespread culture
of giving to the arts by business and philanthropists in this
country. Where it does exist it most usually accompanies government
investment and is generally aimed at large arts organisations
with very well known names. If this is to change it will take
a considerable time.
(h) If government is not setting an example
of investment, why should businesses invest in the arts when this
is not part of their raison d' tre.
(i) Giving financial incentives to the private
sector and to philanthropists to invest in the arts may lead to
further bureaucracy and "red tape".
2. Background to this submission
(a) Horse + Bamboo is a small/medium sized
touring theatre company with a unique visual theatre programme,
started over 30 years ago. The company tours nationally and internationally
from its Lancashire base (which it owns). This Lancashire homeThe
Boois an internationally recognised centre for visual theatre
techniques (mask, puppetry, music, film, animation). Hence the
Company runs masterclasses and mentors other artists and arts
organisations. The Boo also operates as a rural-based arts centre
with a regular programme of events, mostly but not exclusively
for families. It is also used by a diverse range of groups (both
arts and non arts). It is a centre for community life.
(b) Horse + Bamboo typifies many small/medium
sized arts organisations. It is currently regularly funded by
ACE and also receives regular funding from Lancashire County Council
and, lately, from Rossendale Borough Council. In 2009-10 this
funding contributed 55% of our total income. An entrepreneurial
philosophy underpins us as a subsidised arts organisation: over
the last two financial years we have increased our proportion
of earned income from 13% to 20% and this will increase again
in 2010-11 following a major restructure. We currently have no
private sponsorship but are planning a campaign.
(c) We are characteristic of the many small-medium
sized organisations which are a significant part of this country's
cultural spectrum. This submission does not claim a unique perspective
but is founded on a wide-ranging view of this country's arts sector,
embracing our local arts centre concurrent with the expertise
which brings international artists to the Boo, alongside our touring
programme. A local family dropping into a puppet show here may
only be dimly aware of our national touring programme or of our
attraction for international puppeteers. From another perspective
we work collaboratively with Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre,
and are regular visitors to venues such as the Egg in Bath and
the Dome in Brighton. People on international placements spend
time with us and are frequent visitors to our website. Additional
national and wide-ranging insights are gained by the Chief Executive
as a Board member of the Independent Theatre Council.
(d) This submission deals with arts matters.
We regularly work in partnership with heritage organisations but
are basing this paper on our own area.
3. Impact on us of recent and future spending
cuts to the Arts by Central and Local Government
Almost 90% of our core funding is supplied by
ACE and by Lancashire County Council. This is the bedrock which
supports our infrastructure and enables us to develop projects
and obtain funding for them. In the current financial year have
absorbed the 0.5% cut from ACE. Removal or serious reduction in
this core funding curtails our ability to run projects which earn
income and because of likely redundancies, means loss of key staff,
which further imperils our situation.
(a) Ending or a massive reduction in already
programmed activities means a huge loss of earned income. For
example, our new showRed Riding Hoodwhich we are
creating for a Christmas 2010 run at The Boo will then tour in
winter of 2011. It already has a three week run for December 2011
pencilled in with one of England's major venues at the start of
a national tour. This is a new show which is not grant funded
(apart from core time of the joint artistic directors) and will
earn money for the Company.
(b) Likely redundancies or, at best, stand-still
salaries for a team which is already lean could result in loss
of key staff, for instance,
(i) Horse + Bamboo has "grown its own"
producer who now has very good experience and a huge range of
contacts and would be a very attractive employee for another company
where it is likely she would earn more. For now she's happy to
stay with us to gain further experience; she loves our work and
how we work, and relishes the challenge. Her loss would be a big
dent in our ability to produce and sell our work. We would have
to restart with a trainee and rebuild, threatening the success
of our touring work.
(ii) Loss of other senior staff who cannot afford
to work part-timeloss of skills and expertise.
(c) A significant amount of The Boo's range
of activities would be abandoned or significantly reduced. This
(i) Without support infrastructure we could not
run masterclasses or programmes of courses in visual theatre for
which we are internationally renowned. These skills would be lost,
and we would also lose the income which we derive from this popular
(ii) With fewer activities, particularly of national
and international significance, the Boo (our building) would no
longer be a unique meeting place and forum for national and international
artists specialising in visual theatre techniques.
(iii) Our family programme at The Boo is largely
funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation (until 2013). But our
core funding supplies programming and management. This programme
(just starting to have an impact) is targeted at families in Rossendale's
three most deprived areasall in the most deprived 15% of
all wards nationally. It would be unable to continue if there
were significant cuts in core funding. The latest Taking Part
survey shows that participation rates in the arts amongst people
from socio-economically deprived areas are significantly lower
than regional and national norms: closing or significantly reducing
our family programme would reduce this participation still further
immediately but also reduce participation in the longer term since
most successful participation starts early and develops.
(d) We own our own buildinga great
(and unusual) resource for an arts organisation. Ultimately, significant
cuts in overheads could mean having to sell the building. This
(i) End of all building-based activities (see
comments at c) above).
(ii) Loss of space to create work leading therefore
to loss of income.
(iii) The negation of a large investment from
ACE, Heritage Lottery, and the Foundation for Sports and the Arts.
(iv) The closure of an active and increasingly
more active community centre which provides accommodation (either
regularly or occasionally) for:
Local community groups.
A community choir being facilitated by
Local authority public meetings.
Various local meetings for entrepreneurs.
A youth video and film unit.
e) An end or significant reduction in our
activity would also have a big impact on the local economy in
Rossendale, an area of significant deprivation, low wages, and
low expectations in which we are the only professional arts centre.
(i) In 2009-10 we brought £139,934 into
Rossendale. Wherever possible we spend this money locallyso
that all materials for sets are bought here, vans for touring
are hired from local firms, office supplies are sourced locally.
(ii) We provide a wealth of opportunities for
volunteers and placements, all of which are carefully structured
to match the needs of those involved whilst also meeting our needs.
Our volunteers include students keen to enhance their experience,
and people who have been made redundant but who wish to "keep
active". We are also developing volunteering programmes for
people who are long term unemployed, and have worked with volunteers
with mental health disabilities.
(iii) We provide placements for people at varying
points in their careers. Last year, for instance, an assistant
professor from College of St Benedict and St John's University
in the US spent three months with us, whilst we also provided
placements for local year 10 students, for undergraduates, and
(iv) Apart from the useful experience for students
of being on placement, we also offer inspiration and aspirational
ideas not only about work, but also as role models for successful
artists. This broadens the vision for work experience students;
for instance, it is not unusual for local drama students to perceive
live theatre solely as musicals and for their aspirations to be
bounded by a wish to appear in a soap.
4. General impact of recent and future spending
cuts from Central and Local Government on the Arts
(a) Cuts which are too drastic, not phased,
and which wipe out a raft of small-medium sized arts organisations
ignore the centrality of the arts in everyone's life. They will
reflect lack of understanding of something which is at the heart
of communities and of individuals' lives. ACE:NE's film "Life
Without Art" sets this out simplistically but effectively.
The most recent Taking Part survey has tighter definitions for
the arts and shows that, according to its own definitions, almost
74% of people in the NW had a link with the arts.
(b) If small-medium sized arts organisations
either cease to exist or have drastically curtailed programmes
this, in turn, impacts on national artistic life; we are regular
visitors to many universally acclaimed theatres, for example,
the Royal Exchange in Manchester, the Theatre Royal in Bath, the
Dome in Brighton, the Unity Theatre in Liverpool. We enrich their
programme. And bring a unique performance.
(c) Dilution of expertise: if we no longer
exist as a centre of excellence for visual theatre techniques
this whole area of practice is diluted. Mask and puppetry, film/animation
and music all play critical roles in theatre, although not usually
combined as in Horse + Bamboo's work; dilution of this expertise
makes it harder to retain and further develop skills nationally.
(d) A major reduction in the number of small-medium
sized arts organisations means massive reduction in access to
the artsfewer people having access to the creative, thinking,
imaginative spacethe "what if" scenario which
the artsand particularly theatreputs forward. It
is the space where things can be seen differently.
5. What can arts organisations do to work
more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort
and to make economies of scale?
(a) This already happens: most organisations
have a core management/administrative team which is augmented
by contract workers as necessary. Hence the pool of artists is
self employed and contracted for a particular piece of work. When
not contracted to us they will be working with other arts organisations
on a similar basis. Not only is this a financially sensible system,
it also enriches each arts organisation's practice by having a
network of links across the sector.
(b) Most arts organisations will contract
out their accounting, IT support, and building maintenance. It
would be worth examining the potential for economies of scale
here with larger contracts covering several organisations.
(c) Our membership of the Independent Theatre
Council (ITC) means for a modest annual subscription we access
legal, personnel, managerial advice. ITC also run training and
provide a highly valuable sector network.
(d) We have considered the possibilities
of sharing our building with another arts organisation; we already
provide regular accommodation one day a week for a youth film/video
group. Our own activities would be curtailed if we were to expand
this arrangement to any extent.
6. What level of public subsidy for the Arts
and Heritage is necessary and sustainable?
The arts budget costs the government 17p a week
per person. This relatively small public investment enables arts
organisations to raise a phenomenal amount of money against this
sum from other sources, including earned income. Any more than
a shaving off this amount (in acknowledgement of current difficult
times) would radically reduce the amount of money which it enables
arts organisations to generate. Furthermore, the amount raised
either stays in the country or generates further income from abroad
either by attracting tourists to this country because of the quality
of the arts or by directly exporting work abroad.
7. The current system and structure of funding
There are anomalies in the current system of
funding from ACE:
(a) Historical precedence means that similar
organisations doing similar levels of work receive different subsidies.
In our own case we are funded by ACE as a touring theatre company
but it is impossible for us to create, produce, and tour work
without additional funds: not the case for other touring companies.
Furthermore, we need the approval of ACE to apply for a Grant
for the Arts award which is by no means automatic.
(b) Combined with a) there is a lack of transparency
about funding decisions.
8. Changes to the distribution of National
It will clearly be beneficial for the arts if
a greater proportion of national lottery funding is ring-fenced
for arts and heritage. This will, presumably, always be aimed
at particular projects and would not compensate for ending or
radically reducing core funding arrangements between ACE and arts
(a) Lottery income will always depend on public
"choice" to some extent whereas government subsidy for
the arts is a government policy decision.
(b) It is reasonable to argue that those contributing
most to the lottery should receive the most; hence lottery funding
should not support arts forms which attract fewer lottery players
and which are able to attract private sponsorship and high box
(c) Currently it seems impossible to persuade
Awards for All funding panels that arts projects achieve social
change. There seems to be a default acceptance by Awards for All
that arts projects should be funded only as arts projects.
9. Impact of recent changes to ACE
(a) The recent restructure within ACE augurs
well for developing relationships between ACE and RFOs and gives
scope for ACE to act as a broker in funding and other relationships,
particularly with local authorities.
(b) The restructure also connects an arts
organisation with a broader mix of people within ACE; this is
particularly relevant in our case as we now have links to theatre,
visual arts, and combined arts (mask and puppetry) in addition
to our relationship manager.
(c) Negatively, it is now even more difficult
to receive authorisation to apply for Grants for the Arts funding
if an organisation is already Regularly Funded. Before the restructure,
a conversation with the organisation's ACE Officer was where the
decision was made. Now, the Relationship Manager needs to authorise
a request to submit a written application for permission to apply
for a Grants for the Arts. This request goes to a regional paneland
the approval rate is currently about 20%. If approval is received,
then an application to Grants for the Arts can be submittedcurrent
approval rate is at the most about 30%. Given the inconsistencies
in funding of RFO's, it should be recognised that some RFO's will
need automatically to apply for Grants for the Arts funding.
10. Can businesses and philanthropists play
a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local level?
(a) It is conceivable that businesses and
philanthropists could play a larger role in funding the arts.
This is not widespread in the UK and will take a long time to
develop. It will also take considerable work on the part of arts
organisations to develop these new relationships. It cannot, therefore,
be a quick solution to replace rapid and dire cuts to arts organisations'
core funds. For arts organisations outside the metropolitan centres
(with one or two obvious exceptions) it is likely that this will
be an even longer process. In deprived areas, it may not be possible.
(b) In the UK most private donations are
part of a jigsaw puzzle of funding for an arts organisation. The
private donation is not in lieu of public funding but is part
of an overall fund which will include public funding. Hence if
government is choosing not to fund the arts as a policy decision,
why should the private sector?
(c) Businesses have to make a profit and
there are clear examples of sound business investment in the arts
which contribute to profit-making, for example, some of the "big
names" in the major cities but it is likely that only a very
few businesses, although possibly more philanthropists, will be
willing for their investment to fund risky projects. The result
of this is could be an arts sector which is staid, unchallenging,
and which ultimately does not sparkle and provide the creative
leaven in society.
(d) At a time of economic uncertainty, it
is reasonable to assume that businesses will be unable and/or
unwilling to establish long term sponsorship relationships with
arts organisations. What's more, many businesses will be unable
to afford to invest in the arts, or will be wary of investing
when other areas of their business are contracting.
(e) In areas of deprivation the private
sector is a relatively small part of the local economy. It probably
exists on very low margins. It is unlikely that these businesses
will be able to invest.
11. Should there be Government incentives
to encourage private donation?
(a) The Gift Aid system should continue.
It is concrete government recognition of the good that private
(b) As far as government encouragement for
private businesses to donate to the arts is concerned, it may
be that tax incentives could play some part but, to repeat, business
investment decisions willor shouldbe based on an
investment strategy towards business success. It could also increase
bureaucracy and "red tape".