Written evidence submitted by Robert Groves
We need to understand how the increase
in public spending has benefited the Arts. A study is required
to learn from past mistakes and benefit from the successes.
The Arts Council has to consider so many
factors that they are not able to support any of the areas they
New art is watered down by the Arts Council.
New institutions have been established
that will require funding to survive. New facilities can not be
built as a result.
Creative businesses have suffered in
recent years by looking to secure funding and not to access other
sustainable income streams.
Creative industries have a bright future
as technology levels the playing field and opens up new markets.
Community Arts will suffer most by a
further blanket cut to regularly funded organisations and must
The arts in education need to be fair.
Many of the high arts are supported by
public money. They have become unable to generate other income
The Arts Council has a big influence.
This needs to be reviewed.
I am a music producer living in Manchester.
I have released music in different genres and on many formats.
I left university to set up a recording studio, and I learned
about business and the music industry and came into contact with
lots of publicly funded organisations. I worked in schools and
community projects as well as private organisations. I also make
films and have experience in other creative fields. I wanted to
use my experience to help the committee make informed decisions.
(1) Full data analysis of the newly released
government spending figures needs to take place in order to decipher
and track the way public money has been spent. It needs to be
made clear to the public how their money is distributed. It is
a difficult task due to the complexity of the current system.
It would be possible to find volunteers to do much of this work
but a proper study needs to be coordinated. We must learn from
the mistakes and champion the successes. The increase in public
money for the arts over the last 15 years has had an impact in
many areas. Judging this impact independently and impartially
will show clear areas to cut and restructure and practices that
should be repeated and expanded.
(2) Looking closely at the effectiveness
of the Arts Council is vital. The Arts council has had a lot of
money to spend and there are numerous other funding streams that
have to be considered. At the moment the arts council have not
had to be accountable to public demand. This inevitably has an
effect on its performance. The Arts Council recognised this problem
in a 2006 paper:
They suggested that a "value framework"
is needed to show why the Arts Council spends in the way it does.
Most of the documents they produce and indeed emails and website
copy present the organisation in a glowing light. It is the responsibility
of the DCMS to hold them to account in much the same way the arts
council do with the regularly funded organisations.
(3) The current funding system is extremely
complex and as a result it is inefficient. The arts council for
example aims to support new art, guide creative business, help
communities and socially excluded groups, educate, preserve our
arts heritage and increase engagement with the arts. This is a
difficult task as these areas all require a different approach.
In trying to deliver these objectives the Arts Council have blurred
the boundaries between these distinct areas. Unfortunately none
of these areas get the specialist attention that they require.
This adds to the overall inefficiency of the Arts Council and
has a profound effect on the organisations, communities and individuals
they support. A project that satisfies all of these areas will
be looked upon more favourably than a project specialising in
one area and as a result will secure higher future funding. The
regularly funded organisations and those applying for one off
grants therefore tailor their services to match these criteria.
The criteria are is similar for other forms of funding.
(4) People who wish to create new art have
to look at fulfilling some of the other criteria. This inevitably
waters down the artistic integrity of the art they produce. They
are no longer concentrating on art for arts sake. Innovation and
pure creativity drive the whole sector. Like concept cars or couture
fashion these forward thinking ideas push the boundaries and eventually
filter down and enhance our society. Public funds can stimulate
new art in many ways. Helping with the cost of materials and workspace,
and providing networking support can allow for artists to develop
ideas more quickly. It is an essential area to fund because it
is very difficult to raise finance for this without again sacrificing
integrity. In order to asses the quality of a proposal panel of
judges should be specialists in this field alone.
(5) Those looking to develop facilities
to showcase new art would require specialists in other areas to
asses the quality of their proposals. Large sums of public money
has been spent on these projects. In every city there are a multitude
of ways to engage with the arts. It has had a very positive impact
on British life. It is unlikely that many new facilities will
secure funding over the next few years and cutting this area of
funding will save a lot of money. Money will be needed to sustain
existing projects. There has been lots of publicity about projects
that have failed and gone considerably over budget. We have time
to learn from these mistakes and build on successes over the next
few years. The organisations and authorities that distribute public
funds have to be held to account and develop ways of ensuring
mistakes are not repeated. It happened because there was too much
money available and ineffective management of that money. It is
important to try and recoup money on failed projects and not continue
to fund the organisations that do not fulfil their purpose. These
new institutions need assessing and advising to enable them to
(6) As a result of the impending cuts the
Arts Council have been making their case on the premise they are
value for money. They quote figures about the value added to the
British economy by the creative industries. It is very true that
revenue from the arts have grown in recent years and this contributes
a lot to our economy. Is this a result of the public sector spending
or are other factors involved? In recent years there has been
more disposable income so this would increase revenue for creative
enterprises. Technological factors and TV trends have also played
a key role in our international success. It is important to see
the Arts Councils role in this in perspective.
(7) Great opportunities have been missed
to support our creative enterprises. On seeking business advise
creative entrepreneurs were encouraged to be unemployed to become
socially excluded, and pushed towards sources of funding. They
were rarely advised to concentrate on improving the product, generating
capital and looking at marketing and advertising opportunities.
As a result many entrepreneurs that would have developed great
businesses would look for grants and establish organisations that
the taxpayer funds. The available funding streams would require
similar criteria to the arts council to become accessible. This
led to a lot of new projects drawing public funds that would never
be sustainable and in many cases would be unmanageable. Large
sums of money were wasted.
(8) The job centre paid organisations to
train job seekers in creative fields. Training can inspire but
it is extreme to offer everyone on the new deal the option of
learning music production as was the case in Manchester. Lots
of people choose the free music production course but the course
was very short so its effect was negligible. Large sums of money
were ploughed into similar schemes across the country. This allowed
the creative businesses that took advantage of this funding to
flourish. As funding is withdrawn they now have to generate income
in other ways. I fear many of these businesses will not survive
as they have large overheads and face a difficult and unfamiliar
(9) I believe creative enterprises require
specialist advice. This should be business advice primarily as
the artistic and creative skills are the responsibility of the
creative to develop. In the last decade lots of creative advice
agencies funded by public money were established to advise the
creative industries. Unfortunately these agencies would act more
as funding signposts helping to create more organisations reliant
on public money. Community Arts organisations even offer business
advice. As a result of these different organisations many entrepreneurs
have not set up commercial businesses which help the economy and
became experts at securing public funding.. This is great for
charities and community projects but not for those looking to
set up a creative business. It is also not an effective way to
stimulate creative enterprise.
(10) Those people did not seek or take advice
and just tried to make money have had the biggest effect on our
economy. They have shown new ways of working and are keeping the
UK at the forefront of the creative industries. Old business models
are outdated and a fit for purpose approach is the key to their
success. Within the music industry there is turmoil. Large organisations
are in grave difficulty. These new businesses will fill the gap
and it is already showing signs that the musicians will see a
much greater per cent of royalties as a result. It is an exciting
time and I believe that new creative enterprises in all fields,
will lead the way for other sectors to improve business practice.
It is now possible for everyone to reach a global market.
(11) Support that is relevant to these businesses
and new enterprise needs to be managed by the government with
the aim of stimulating the economy and ensuring taxes are paid.
This helps the creative and the economy. Business incubation schemes
and strong business advice will have the biggest effect on the
income the country makes from the creative sector. This is what
Creative entrepreneurs require. New technologies allow for business
clusters to easily form allowing for efficient management of large
projects and amazing collaborations. It is also remarkably cheap
to buy professional standard equipment. The future for creative
enterprise is very bright and not as expensive to get a foot in
(12) Community arts organisations and projects
designed help socially excluded people are most at risk from cuts
in public spending. They do not draw large amounts of public money
and provide an essential service. The Arts Council will pass on
cuts that may not severely damage the large organisations but
will cripple the smaller community projects. These organisations
must be judged on their value to society not the quality of the
art. Those organisations that attempt to satisfy the most funding
criteria will have a difficult time proving their effectiveness.
It is better to analyse them properly and secure the future of
successful projects than to do a cut across the board.
(13) As entrepreneurs were encouraged and
guided to establish projects that helped socially excluded people
they would buy equipment and in many cases get funding for building
work. This also took place in the city centre of Manchester when
it would have been more cost effective for these projects to use
existing facilities. I saw many fail and it was very clear that
the people who ran them did not have the required skills. When
working with Aim Higher I was able to get an extremely low rate
from one training providers to record school children. They did
it because they had the downtime in the facility to spare and
they wanted to help out. Creative industries like to give back
to the industry and help people be creative. A substantial volunteer
drive is needed from community organisations. There is an infrastructure
their that could be used to effectively deliver a "Big Society".
(14) There are many initiatives that attempt
to make the arts accessible to young people. However many schools
do not offer a music GCSE. Some areas have publicly funded orchestras
come to the school to perform. This is unfair and shows how we
have not covered the basics of arts education. Creative industries
and the arts can inspire the youth to think and be creative. Making
them accessible for all is possible if equipment is chosen wisely.
By using computer programs students learn the skills that are
needed in the real world because they enjoy it. Allowing school
children access to music making and video making equipment and
materials for art projects we pave the way for a bright future.
Bringing new art into schools is also essential as is allowing
access to museums for school children. Developing creative thinking
is an important part of education.
(15) The Arts Council is responsible for
arts heritage. Some of the highest funded organisations are essentially
heritage projects. Many have become unable to make money and are
reliant on the large sums awarded. These organisations change
their business structure and become less likely to make there
own revenue. Money invested in organisations that turn a profit
should be the first to stop receiving the awards. Those organisations
that will always need funding need to be assessed and decisions
made on their merits. The loss of larger organisations would create
a lot of negative press so the Arts Council will not be very willing
to do this. This needs to be looked at objectively and these organisations
must all increase revenue if possible.
(16) By judging art on the number of people
it engages we can sometimes exclude great art in favour of socially
acceptable state art.
(17) I believe the Arts Council has had
to much control and certain areas like enterprise, community projects
and education could be handled more effectively by other authorities.
Then they can concentrate their energy on stimulating the arts,
preserving our culture and engaging the public.