ACE axe to fall first on £38m Creative Partnerships

Creative Partnerships, the government’s flagship £38.1 million cultural education initiative, is in line to become the first major casualty of arts funding cuts, after Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) claimed it had been told by Arts Council England that it will lose all funding for the project.

The scheme will have the £38.1 million annual support it receives removed at the end of 2010/11, according to CCE – the charitable organisation that administers the scheme. CCE says this means the initiative will be unable to continue beyond the end of this academic year.

However, while CCE claims it has been informed by ACE that it intends to withdraw funding, the arts council insists that no final decisions have been made on any funding agreements for next year. It is understood that arts organisations are not due to be told ACE’s confirmed decisions until November.

A spokesman for CCE said: “ACE has confirmed that they are intending to withdraw their funding of the Creative Partnerships programme completely at the end of the 2010/11 academic year – so the programme won’t be able to continue in its current form in schools from September 2011.”

CCE chief executive Paul Collard railed against the decision, complaining that “with the withdrawal of funding from programmes such as Creative Partnerships, Find Your Talent and A Night Less Ordinary, it is becoming increasingly clear that children and young people, particularly those from the most disadvantaged communities, will be expected to bear the brunt of the cuts in the arts”.

Responding to Collard’s claims, ACE said that “no decisions on the funding of organisations beyond March 2011 have yet been taken by Arts Council England”.

A spokesman added: “Decisions will not be made until we know the size and terms of our settlement from government. We are exploring a number of difficult options for future funding and, in the spirit of openness, sharing our thinking with the organisations we currently fund.

“Whatever the outcome of the spending review, we are committed to ensuring that art in this country continues to flourish and is available to even more people. Children and young people are central to that vision.”

Creative Partnerships was launched in 2002 and was originally run by ACE. Responsibility for delivering the scheme transferred to CCE in early 2009.

The project helps connect schools with professionals working in the creative industries, such as actors or directors, who then work with children up to the age of 16.

A report published by CCE this week claims that the programme generates around £15 for the wider economy for every £1 invested in the scheme, because of the impact it has on GCSE grades.

In June this year, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport axed support for the Find Your Talent scheme, another school arts initiative run by CCE.

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The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. Photo: Noel Foster