Arts Council England chief executive Peter Hewitt has defended the funding body against criticisms from National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, by claiming that the organisation has received “a large number of communications welcoming both the strategy” and “specific proposals” of its latest funding round.
Speaking at the NT’s season launch yesterday, Hytner said that ACE should be “encouraged to act boldly”, but branded its recent funding proposals as “bollocks”, and its spending review a “strategic catastrophe”.
Today, Hewitt responded: “It is pleasing that the director of the National Theatre and others so strongly support the arts council’s arts funding strategy – in Hytner’s words, ‘being encouraged to act boldly, otherwise new companies and new ideas would not emerge’. But it is disappointing that they are less able to countenance the practical consequences of that strategy, which means reducing or not renewing funding to some organisations, in order to create a vibrant artistic culture.
“All of our proposals have been made following the full involvement of specialist staff throughout the organisation, reflecting both national and regional perspectives. The arts council has received a large number of communications welcoming both the strategy and our specific proposals. We believe that support will be heard when we publish our final funding decisions on February 1.”
At the end of last year, ACE announced it was undertaking a major overhaul of its regular funded organisations, cutting funding completely to nearly 200 of its RFOs – around a fifth of its portfolio. It also plans to introduce 80 new companies, while 75% of its clients received an inflationary increase or more.