Written evidence submitted by Sue Grace,
Sarah Bridges, Jane Seddon, Carrie Carruthers, Louise Tyrrell
and Grace Kempster, Northamptonshire County Council (arts 30)
1. 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;
1.1 The arts in Northamptonshire are relatively
under-developed when compared to the rest of the region, with
fewer infrastructural resources and a smaller number of independent
arts organisations. Only 6.5% of the organisations regularly funded
by the Arts Council England, East Midlands (ACEEM) are based in
Northamptonshire, which compares poorly with its 15% of the region's
population (Arts Council Regularly Funded Organisations (RFO),
are listed as RFO's in the paragraphs below). ACEEM has identified
a small number of geographical priorities in its current operational
plan, of which Northamptonshire is one.
1.2 Funding of the arts in Northamptonshire
is generally below the national average, with both local government
and the Arts Council providing less support in the county than
elsewhere in the region. It can be inferred that this has contributed
to a slower development of the arts in the county than in other
parts of the East Midlands, since limited resources has the inevitable
effect of limiting demand.
1.3 Therefore the spending cuts could potentially
mean that some of the infrastructure we do have is threatened
or even lost altogether. The social and economic impact of this
is hard to determine at this point.
1.4 At county level, archives serves (record
offices) and heritage services such as Historic Environment Records
are usually financed by county councils. At a time of pressure
on public sector finance and the likelihood of councils needing
to look very closely at what they can provide within reduced budgets,
services that are seen as non-essential are likely to fare badly.
The risks are that already small services will be pared down to
the point that they cannot operate. This could put the heritage
of our country at risk.
1.5 In the case of a Record Office, an authority
may decide not to open to the public but it still has a responsibility,
statutory in many instances, to look after archives. The buildings
in which the collections are housed need to be maintained and
the collections need to be cared for. However, if the service
is not open to the public, then we are wasting an invaluable asset
that can be used to support numerous other key government priorities.
Similarly the Historic Environment Record is a heritage asset
in its own right. It is also a vital component of the planning
processif there was no funding to provide a HER, then decisions
could be made that would impact on or even destroy some of the
historic environment of the country.
1.6 Clearly libraries are a statutory service
and remain so, which is welcomed. Libraries have a crucial role
in effective audience development for heritage and cultureie
bringing new and diverse audiences to engage with heritage and
2. What arts organisations can do to work
more closely together in order to reduce duplication of effort
and to make economies of scale
2.1 Eight arts organisations are currently
working together through the Strategic Arts Network which is an
initiative funded through Arts Council managed funds until March
2012. This has given the key arts organisations the opportunity
to establish links and explore economies of scale. The main lesson
we have learnt through this project is that it takes time to do
this work if organisations do not already know each other. It
takes time and investment to develop a culture of partnership
2.2 The Royal and Derngate have recently
won the tender to run the new Corby Cube theatre the model here
is in effect a shared service model, with corporate and back office
functions shared across the two venues. We will be watching this
with interest to see what lessons can be learned.
3. What level of public subsidy for the arts
and heritage is necessary and sustainable?
3.1 Cultural investment plans have been
created with partners by West Northants Development Corporation
and North Northants Development Company. We are therefore very
clear about priorities for the county with the opportunity to
focus on needs in the light of the opportunities afforded by the
growth of the county. Cuts to funded organisations limit our ability
to respond to these opportunities. We are already starting from
a low base.
3.2 Essentially public funding for the arts
is required to maintain the "non-commercial" aspects
of deliverythe community work, the development of new work,
the creation of high quality, original artistic product.
3.3 Public funding is needed to support
the services that are of and about the people of this country
and their heritage. Everyone has an entitlement to know about
their heritage, whether it be of their community, their family
or of other communities of interest. Authorities need to be challenged
to ensure they are making best use of their heritage resources
but also supported in making it easier to access and engage with
4. Whether the current system, and structure,
of funding distribution is the right one
4.1 We value the partnership with the Arts
Council and of other boroughs and districts. An example is the
partnership between Northampton Borough Council, the Arts Council
and Northamptonshire County Council to fund key priority organisations
in Northampton. This has involved joint review meetings and shared
funding agreements. The Arts Council has just made major cuts
to its administration any further cuts could be detrimental to
its ability to deliver.
4.2 Support for voluntary and independent
organisations is very important to help develop their sustainability
for the future and a strong business direction. Renaissance is
currently delivering this through frontline support for organisations.
Specifically in Northamptonshire, museum development reaches a
wide number of organisations across the county. The Renaissance
structure in the East Midlands has the opportunity to link local
knowledge with a wider strategic view. It is important to link
the two perspectives
4.3 Some streamlining of funding streams
would be useful. The link or separation between MLA funding and
Renaissance funding sometimes adds to confusion over responsibilities.
It could be argued that rather than have separate funding/development
agencies such as MLA, Arts Council, Crafts Council, Screen Agencies
these could all merge to create a body with responsibility for
culture and creative industries development.
4.4 The enquiry needs to note the opportunity
for cross skilling of libraries, heritage and cultural staff to
bring alive opportunities for self betterment
5. What impact recent changes to the distribution
of National Lottery funds will have on arts and heritage organisations
5.1 The change to small grant funding in
ACE is welcome. The change to quicken the decision of grants up
to 10K has been an improvement. It has enabled smaller projects
to be more nimble and quicker to implement. The proposed change
by DCMS to restore the national lottery shares for arts, heritage
and sport is very welcome. This would ensure that funding is available
to offset the pressures from reductions in treasury funding, at
a time when organisations and charities really need it to ensure
that the public continues to receive high quality experiences
that enrich their lives. However, as other funding streams decrease
this will inevitably become more competitive.
5.2 The application process in HLF is currently
too bureaucratic. Many organisations require support from development
workers outside of HLF to develop a structure and capacity to
secure funding or to be encouraged to apply this could be simplified.
5.3 We are concerned that currently we do
not have a philanthropic culture in the UK and that this would
take many years to develop. Private sector investment is already
a key aspect of funding but this too has been challenging to maintain
in recent times.
6. Whether the policy guidelines for National
Lottery funding need to be reviewed
Currently the application process is
The focus on volunteering is good for
independents and the voluntary sector but if there is less local
authority and government funding for museums then the application
process needs to be made easier for local authority museums.
The HLF currently will not fund things
that it judges should be part of a local authority's core responsibilities.
This will need to change as local government funding is cut. An
innovative capital project that in the past might have been taken
forward within a local authority is less likely to be from now
on. Therefore the judgment about what is or is not `core' needs
The impact of recent changes to DCMS
arm's-length bodiesin particular the abolition of the UK
Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
6.2 The loss of MLA is particularly relevant
to these sectors. It is important in the current economic climate
that we have a strategic body with these responsibilities sitting
within their principal functions. See above for suggestion of
mergers between current bodies to create a culture and creative
industries development agency.
6.3 It is also important that the following
MLA functions are secured:
Accreditation scheme. Many museums including
volunteer community museums have worked hard to reach the best
practise of accreditation standards and need to be reassured.
Designationthis is a lifeline
for significant regional collections.
Government indemnity scheme.
Representation of the museum/archives
Renaissance (This funding has addressed
a previous chronic underfunding in the sector. Renaissance funding
is necessary to continue developing organisations to help improve
access to museums for all.)
Portable Antiquities Scheme.
6.4 It is important to note that arts, museums,
libraries and archives all have an important role to play in the
implementation of the government's Big Society. The development
of cultural capital is a vital part of building the social capital
that is required for the Big Society to thrive. It is important
therefore that these sectors are represented at a senior, strategic
level within governmentalbeit at arms length. Any change
should be implemented in consultation with local authorities and
other key providers to ensure it is fit for purpose. We recognise
that rationalisation of what we currently have will have to take
place, given the deficit in public funds, but a voice for these
sectors and development support and funding is still required.
7. Whether businesses and philanthropists
can play a long-term role in funding arts at a national and local
7.1 Northamptonshire has had little investment
from businesses into the arts in the past. It was considered a
"cold" spot for the Nottinghamshire based Arts and Business
who made little headway in developing relationships. The organisation
most likely to benefit is the Royal & Derngate due to their
profile and nature of work, although they have found it difficult
to attract private funding in the past, and over the last two
years they have seen their business support reduce. In the current
economic climate this seems likely to get worse not better. The
nature of the arts organisations in the county, apart from the
R&D, tend to be low profile and so historically have found
it difficult to offer businesses what they are looking for. In
terms of philanthropistswe have no history of this sort
of financial support in the county and so it would be an uncertain
avenue of support for the future and certainly long term. We therefore
do not consider they are able to play a role in funding the
arts unless there is investment in the short term in developing
these relationships alongside incentives to encourage this to
take place. We currently do not have a philanthropic culture in
the UK. This would take many years to develop.
7.2 The cutting edge in arts, and also some
work that involves making culture accessible, is unlikely to be
funded by philanthropy. Sponsorship may also not be applicable
as sponsorship is dependent on a fit with a company's principles
and can also create ethical problems. The American model results
in art activity through philanthropic subsidy that is sometimes
being restrictively expensive and therefore not accessible to
all. It may be important to develop funding from businesses and
philanthropists. However this may take many years to become embedded.
There are concerns that while philanthropy may be attractive in
London among the bigger institutions with established brand, this
is not so for organisations outside of London and relatively small
community museums and local authority museums where philanthropy
will not make up for cuts in public funding.
7.3 As it is now, funding needs to be a
mix from businesses, philanthropists, but also from the public