Written evidence submitted by Prescap
I am writing to you as the Chief Executive of
Prescap which is a community and participatory arts organisation
based in Preston, a member of The Guild Take Off Committee, Preston
Arts Sub Group and Cultural Forum, Consortium of Participatory
Arts Learning (C-PAL, a regional wide consortium)) and Third Sector
Lancashire (TSL)(a consortium of Voluntary Charity and Faith Sector,
VCFS, organisations in Lancashire), heading their Arts and Cultural
Network Group; and also as a resident of Britain.
I have put this short report together about
the impact the Arts and Culture has on our society. And what effect
the proposed cuts to funding will have on the sector. I work with
many other organisations as you can see, and have wanted to represent
the diverse activities and practice those organisations represent.
However I will be talking from the point of view of my organisation
and the consortia we are part of, which is mainly around community
and participatory arts.
This report will cover, in a very rudimentary
way so as to give you the best idea of the range of work we are
involved in without being long winded:
What the arts does for us and our society?
How the arts effects communities and
our society and what impact on that funding cuts may have?
How arts organisations work together,
and other organisations?
What level of public subsidy is necessary
The impact of changes to the distribution
of National Lottery funding?
How the abolition of the UK Film Council
and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is being perceived?
Can businesses and philanthropic organisations
play a long-term role in funding arts?
The arts and cultural activities are often put
forward for reduction when spending cuts are being proposed, and
even in Preston City Council the budget for the Cultural Development
Manager has already been withdrawn due to spending cuts. Currently
the government is talking of 40% cuts, and the arts are often
targeted as they seem to be an unnecessary expense.
However the actual spend overall on the arts
is only slight and so the savings are minimal, 7p in every £100
of total public spending in the UK or as the Arts Council website
puts it less than the price of a loaf per family a week. So this
is a minimal saving, to a sector that was heavily hit by the funding
changes to the lottery caused by the 2012 Olympics on the Arts
Council of England, as well as other lottery funding that arts
projects also accessed if they were educational or regenerated
As part of the organisation, groups, consortia
and networks named above I propose that saving this small amount
of investment may be more expensive than realised.
What the arts does for us and our society?
We are passionate about our country and society,
Britain is fair, law abiding and creative. We may not think of
Britain as artistic nation, like Italy or the Netherlands, but
Britain does have a rich cultural heritage. And also that creative
energy of Britain, shown in the popular music that has had a strangle
hold on world music industry for example, has many other outlets.
Britain led the world in industry and entrepreneurial activity,
and even now has some of the best and most sought after designers,
commercial minds and financial creative individuals.
We are passionate about arts and creative activity,
working with artists and communities who have benefited from the
arts. Creative work and projects has a unique quality of allowing
people to discover skills, understanding and communal responsibility.
It is relaxing and fun, which is an ideal way to allow people
to explore difficult subjects and challenges, and also encourages
learning and development of learning styles. Due to its fun and
relaxed nature, social cohesion projects and regeneration projects
often use arts projects to bring two different communities together
to develop a unified approach to social development.
Arts and cultural activities engage wide sections
of the community, bringing people together, learning new skills
and some are re-engaging with society. Creative activities allow
people to gain confidence in themselves, as they are engaging
in relaxed and enjoyable processes, unthreatened and feeling safe.
Creative activities stimulate the mind, and lead to new thinking
and even productive behaviour, including in other areas not usually
associated with the arts. This has been researched over some periods
of time, and the following quotes are from papers and reports
from researchers in the fields of psychology and social development:
"intrinsic motivation [
] creative activities that are enjoyable and rewarding
in their own right". (Beck 2004 pp 194, para 1)
Intrinsic motivation is associated with three
1) Autonomythe need to feel independent.
2) Competencea person wants to feel
that he or she is good at the activity in question.
3) Relatednessthe feeling of being
connected with other people.
(Deci & Ryan, cited in Beck, 2004, pp 194,
BECK, Robert C (2004): "Motivational Theories
and Principles", Fifth Edition, Pearson Education Incorporated,
New Jersey. USA
The need for independence and relatedness (that
could be called inclusion) has been identified as an issue for
people with learning disabilities in the Department of Health
White Paper (2001): "Valuing People (a new strategy for learning
disability for the 21st Century)", HMSO, London, UK. In art
based workshops the promotion of independence and inclusion through
achievement and competence is paramount. And these needs also
apply to disengaged young people, ethnic communities who feel
disempowered and most groups of disadvantaged communities.
Some of this doesn't have an immediate or obvious
financial impact but in these post unified religion days, can
you think of any other social activity that can do that?
How the arts effects communities and our society
and what impact on that funding cuts may have?
The impact of spending cuts on the sector will
be large. The funding Arts Council currently gives our organisation
levers much more funding and other income as we can cover a large
proportion of our core costs.
The arts provide jobs to several thousand people
in Britain, from the staff at my organisation, other arts organisations,
the museum and gallery, freelance artists, the University, project
managers, technicians and support services such as printing and
IT support. The cultural sector of Britain is growing as the country
grows and this is no coincidence, and now we are proud there are
many arts organisations in the UK.
These organisations also have opportunities
for volunteers, for example our community radio station, Preston
FM, has over a thousand volunteers trained to a recognised standard
to deliver and produce radio programmes, of which currently 350
Prescap was involved in social cohesion projects
in areas of the North West like Preston, Knowsley, Burnley, Bolton
and Blackpool, bringing communities together, allowing disadvantaged
people a safe place to express and developing health awareness
peer to peer material about subjects people find difficult to
talk about. These projects alongside other initiatives other organisations
all over the country have helped make those areas feel safer and
some community members feel the sight of new community developed
art has really contributed to that.
Through organisations mentioned above the small
funding that the arts receives produces a financial return as
well. This means money going into this economy, to people who
live here in the UK and to support services and other organisations
in the city.
But if there are cuts to local authorities,
universities and other social budgets, the arts world will already
be taking cuts as many artists have paid work in those sectors
as well, for example Lime Arts in Greater Manchester does a lot
of work with Primary Care Trust, for artists who have developed
skills in that area how are they to be sustained? If there is
continued arts funding this excellent and much needed work can
continue, without it will stop.
How arts organisations work together and other
Prescap is part of several networks, consortia
and partnerships with other arts organisations. We work with these
to develop other arts sector organisations, projects for communities
and better quality of provision and standards of work in our sector.
This has meant better understanding from other sectors of the
way we work and our quality standards, for example what we expect
from a lead artist, project manager and how we define best practice
on a project.
We are also working closely with social enterprise
organisations such as Progress Housing in Central Lancashire,
Great Places Housing Group in Bolton, Business Venture in South
Ribble, delivering projects or developing services for their clients.
As part of the TSL Consortium in Lancashire
we work closely with other VCFS organisations to deliver projects
that impact very positively on their service users. We are keen
to develop further consortium and partnership working, and as
an example we are working closely with Young Lancashire, who lead
the Children and Young People Group of the TSL, and deliver services
to Young People in rural areas of Lancashire.
What level of public subsidy is necessary and
In order to encourage and build on the services
and community provision available currently the level pre 2010
were already too small. Since lottery funding was reallocated
to pay for the 2012 Olympics it has been harder to find public
funding for decent and truly impactful community arts projects.
So at very least the level we currently have, which is 0.07% of
total public funding.
In terms of defining what is sustainable, we
must think about changing our mindset. Is it sustainable to not
fund community arts and cultural activity? The opportunities for
all members of society with the arts is bountiful; family days
out, family learning, diversionary activities for the disaffected,
confidence building for socially awkward individuals, social cohesion,
regeneration of neighbour hoods and employment and career opportunities
for many people across Britain.
Also the inspiration to the future minds is
encouraged by the arts. The Creative Partnerships programme and
the Arts Award qualifications both were aimed at developing creative
thinking while learning, to ask questions and find solutions.
A project we led for Creative Partnerships for example, improved
English language skills in a primary school serving a high percentage
Asian community of Pennine Lancashire, and for many was a second
language at this stage of their lives. This was done by writing
a new school song, this was educational, aspirational, empowering
and for some students a truly inspiring way of learning, as one
student put it "finally I knew where to put the commas and
Creative thinking is where new ideas come from,
and new ideas in industry, business and commerce create a strong
We are aware that this current financial climate
we are in is going to impact on other sectors, other VCFS organisations
and other social activities, but all we ask is that the arts,
which is only a small national cost, could stay at the level that
it is now, as that is barely enough.
The impact of changes to the distribution of National
We think this is an area that may need some
investigation, but as arts projects deliverers we are more interested
in what the funding brings to the communities of Britain.
Provision of arts and cultural activities should
not be thought of as luxury, unless we are at war! Even then the
arts was appreciated and funded by the government, so really I
see no reason why a government faced with a difficult period of
social need and belt tightening doesn't want to engage it's population
with engaging and fulfilling activities. Especially when these
activities stimulate creativity, entrepreneurs and industry. Vibrant
culture makes for a go to countrylook at the impact Dali
has on Barcelona, the Beatles on Liverpool, the art scene in 50's
New York, the film industry in Los Angeles and even the potteries
of Cornwall. And London in the 60s was a massively popular place,
and still fondly remembered as such, due to the highly creative
and cultural scenes that were happening at that time in our capital.
If there was to be a review of Lottery guidelines,
I would propose that maybe the larger established venues like
the Royal Opera House should not be funded this way. It makes
me uncomfortable to suggest that, as I think all art is important,
however this form of art does seem remote to many people, and
mainly appeals to those who probably can afford it.
The real need for arts is actually within the
communities of people around Britain who cannot access culture
easily, will be stimulated and inspired by the activities and
who could not afford to take part on their own budget. This funding
is after all paid for by everyone
Cuts to lottery funding will mean that people
without privileged backgrounds will not be able to make or access
How the abolition of the UK Film Council and the
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is being perceived?
One of the problems with abolishing these bodies
is that it sends out a very negative impression of what Britain
aspires to. The abolition of the UK Film Council has been perceived
by the American film industry with dismay, this body was seen
as a positive way to develop and increase both UK's own film industry
and the global market for the UK in terms of locations, resources,
people and talent.
Closer to home the Museums, Libraries and Archives
are very important for allowing people to feel they have a connection
to our shared heritage. People may not go to the museum or gallery
every month, but the knowledge it is available is important, "eight
out of 10 people feel it is very important that their local city
or town has its own museum or art gallery" (MORI). Our organisations
works in schools and all of these resources are really important
to young people, regardless of the impression one might get from
the media and even young people themselves!
Also and this is really important, when we are
talking about what the arts, culture and creative activity means
for people and the impact it has on communities and society, in
terms of aspiration, social development and the culture of Britain
this kind of activity shows that our society is healthy. This
kind of activity is getting nearer the level of self actualisation
that on Mazlo's hierarchy of need is the pinnacle of society.
Our society is not one just surviving, our society is far safer
and affluent than most of the rest of the worlds, and even historically.
We are supported and able to develop and often many in our country
are able to reflect on their personal worth, the arts is part
of the development of self actualisation.
Our government cannot be suggesting that this
country is in some way sliding backwards into that of a developing
country under their guidance. Or should axe arts and culture in
order to growthe arts helps society grow, and people develop
healthily in that society.
Can businesses and philanthropic organisations
play a long-term role in funding arts?
There is an argument that philanthropy will
be able to pick up the difference in funding that is cut, and
in Preston there was certainly a proud record of that from the
Victorian ages. But these are not similar times, and really philanthropists
will only support projects that reflect well on them. If central
government won't support the arts, is it generating the confidence
for the philanthropists to do so? And more importantly, philanthropists
will mostly be interested in funding highly visible public art
as apposed to a smaller photographic project with young mums,
exploring their needs and views for other young mums, for example.
Let them fund the Opera, the larger scale and controversial public
artworks, if they wish, that will free up cash for communities
that need it.
However a culture of philanthropy will need
to be cultivated in order for that to take hold, and that takes
Having said that, we have demonstrated over
this article ways that arts organisations are exploring new ways
to find funding and income, in partnerships and sponsorship, to
be able to deliver not just well funded but well needed projects.
The VCFS consortium in Lancashire, the Third
Sector Lancashire, is keen to show it can deliver high quality
services to communities, and the arts sector has over the last
15 years developed high levels of good practice, quality and innovative
delivery that often leads the other sectors. Prescap's own equal
opportunities policy was ahead of its time in 1987, and banned
smoking in its premises in 1998. This kind of innovative practice
will of course come more naturally to creative people and organisations,
and continues as we engage in partnership working with other stakeholders
and consortia with other arts delivery agents, such as the Preston
Arts Sub Group.
I believe that to not invest in the arts at
the current level at least, shows a lack of commitment to our
society and British way of life.
The Big Society agenda will actually need art
organisations to help it work. As you have read they have already
been working with other VCFS, Social Enterprise and Commercial
organisations to deliver socially developing projects, work and
To conclude I want to quote Antony Gormley,
Arts funding is not about encouraging limp
dependency but about allowing things that would not exist to come
alive and in the process, make us more so. There is no sense in
denying the vitality of the new, untried untested. This is where
the future comes from. The economic argument simply does not wash:
investment in art is paid for many times over. We are living in
an unprecedented time of creative richness in the UK and this
is the reason people want to come. Why destroy it?