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


Written evidence submitted by Newcastle City Council (arts 47)

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?

    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:

    This depends on the scale of future reductions. But government needs to be mindful that reductions in its funding of the sector will also be mirrored by reductions in funding from local government. Unless central government protects the sector and makes a smaller percentage cut, these organisations, and the sector as a whole face, significant budget reductions from two fronts.

    The national arts budget is relatively small compared with many other countries—it amounts to the equivalent of 17p a week per person. In return we have world-class arts and artists, a sector that gives the UK an international edge as a creative place to live, work and do business and a sector that is a big job creator and regenerator of cities and communities—and the Newcastle area is one of the country's best examples.

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

    Voluntary sector organisations must make every effort to share bureaucracy and "back office" costs to achieve maximum efficiency and protect programme and delivery. ACE should consider additional support programmes such as the recent "Thrive" and perhaps consider an "Invest to Save" scheme for those organisations keen to take a more creative approach to finding efficiencies.

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

    There are many examples of Arts activity, and associated education and outreach programmes, which are not sustainable through income generation and philanthropy. Work with disadvantaged groups of people, the scope to experiment with art forms, and the attraction of new audiences all require subsidy. Mainstream provision, and the support of the truly transformed cultural infrastructure also require subsidy if the cultural life of cities, towns and other communities is not to be decimated in the new future.

    Investment in museums through the Renaissance programme and other funding has led to unprecedented levels of people engaging with museums, an increase in visitor numbers and more diverse audience for museums. It has also changed the nature of engagement with museums from a passive visit to a positive experience which contributes to learning and personal development and to health and wellbeing, with individual benefits also being realised at community level. Conversely a reduction in investment will threaten this. Whilst some the legacy of what museums have achieved will last for a short while, its effect will be limited if activities and programmes cannot be sustained. Museums provide good value for the investment made by the public sector but reductions in funding could disproportionately impact on outputs and outcomes. Renaissance and related museum activities have not only helped to change lives but have also had strong economic benefits, in particular supporting tourism, and have significantly developed opportunities for and the contribution made by volunteers as well as really working to engage people with their museums through consultation, coproduction and involvement of communities in programming and management.

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

    Funding should be delivered with reduced, and the very minimum of bureaucracy, and should be granted for a reasonable period of time (at least two to three years). There should also be sufficient notice (at least six months) as programmes come to an end with a clear indication of future programmes. This is important for the sector as a whole, and crucial for the smaller organisations within the voluntary sector.

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

    The changes to both the Heritage Lottery and Arts Lottery will be beneficial for the sector, supporting both smaller grants and some larger grants. Although many organisations have had significant capital investment there are still a number of capital projects which ,with lottery and other investment, could produce significant benefits for jobs, for tourism, for lifelong learning and for quality of life.

    Whether the policy guidelines for National Lottery funding need to be reviewed:

    The City Council is pleased to see that the national Lottery will be restored to its original distribution proportions. Both in the north east and nationally the proven benefits of significant arts, sport and heritage initiatives supported by the lottery indicate just what these sectors can achieve.

    We feel that it is important that the ongoing policy reflects both the reduced availability of capital funding and current challenges to revenue funding. Whilst many cultural buildings have been re-energized through lottery funding and have delivered benefits in terms of tourism, jobs created and learning outcomes, there are significant museums, galleries and other cultural facilities which have the potential to significantly increase their contribution to the local economy and society with investment in capital infrastructure.

    The lottery has also supported ground breaking revenue projects both at community and wider level. As the lottery distributors have now established themselves successfully and developed strong policy bases it seems appropriate to allow them to shape programmes more effectively and where they can identify gaps or needs to target activity and, where appropriate, to solicit grants.

    We would welcome the opportunity for the whole sector (for example public libraries) to become eligible for both revenue and capital lottery funding.

    It is also hoped that in future there can be a more joined up approach between lottery distributors. For example projects involving historic and contemporary art may require joint funding applications to Arts and Heritage lotteries—too date these have been difficult to facilitate

    The impact of recent changes to DCMS arm's-length bodies—in particular the abolition of the UK Film Council and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council:

    It is difficult to properly respond to this question when so little is known about successor arrangements, and there appears to be so little open discussion about the future. A more transparent and inclusive debate about future arrangements would be welcomed.

    Museums, Libraries and Archives Council : MLA

    The national work and programming by MLA will presumably be transferred to whichever organisation takes over this function.

    The work of the MLA in the regions must not be overlooked. MLA-North East, for example, provides a local context for national initiatives and also supports regional working through projects like the North East Accessible Library Information Service (NEALIS) for blind and visually impaired people. They have commissioned significant local research into Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) etc., and most recently they have supported local library services with some revisioning of library services.

    MLA have been effective locally acting as advocates for library services particularly to Chief Executives who, in some authorities, are not easily contactable by the heads of service (not the case in Newcastle). The libraries modernisation programme is a good example of regional MLAs delivering a nationally agreed priority.

    It is important that whatever replaces MLA still has a regional function, and can provide dynamic leadership for the museums, libraries and archives sector.

    It is also very important that the museum development function continues to be delivered to support regional museum. In the North East this works successfully with the Museum Development Officer working within the regional Renaissance team and working closely alongside MLA officers.

    UK Film Council

    We are concerned about how the regional work of UK Film Council organizations will be managed in the future…and what regional input there will be. The north east has been well served by Northern Film and media, and we are concerned that these benefits will be lost.

    The loss of regional control of the Arts Council as it became part of a national body was an earlier blow, as was the abolition, also by the previous government, of Culture North East. The strength of culture in the region, and its transformational effect, was largely down to inspirational leaders and strong cultural institutions, with a wide base of support among all sectors in the region. Care must be taken about further dismantling of this infrastructure.

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

    Philanthropy, and the opportunity to develop it for the sector is not consistent across the country. In the North East ,for example, there is a comparative shortfall in the number of high net worth individuals with disposable assets (amongst the wealthier people much investment is tied up in fixed assets) and of head offices or large regional firms where the decision on sponsorship is made locally. This significantly reduces our ability for this type of fundraising. It is particularly difficult to develop philanthropic funding to support revenue costs.

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

    Increased tax incentives focused on encouraging philanthropy in this area would be welcome. Specific government initiatives to support the engagement of businesses with culture are also important. It is important that this work goes beyond the "easy win" of encouraging business, for example, to hire paintings for board room walls. Valuable as that is, there is much more that business and culture have to offer to each other.

September 2010





 
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