Exclusive: Arts council plans to cut 150 jobs

Natalie Woolman
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Plans to axe 150 posts – a quarter of its current workforce – are being considered by Arts Council England as the quango tries to halve its running costs, The Stage can reveal.

The government ordered the arts council to cut its administrative costs by 50% in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review and these must be in place by 2015.

As well as losing 150 posts, the new model under consideration will mean changes to how ACE operates regionally. Instead of the current system of nine regions, there will be five regional and one national hub. However, the relationship manager role – which provides support to arts organisations on the ground at a local level – will remain.

Meanwhile, the executive board will be cut from nine members to five if the plans go ahead in their current form. All members of the board will have direct contact with the arts sector in the new model.

The plans are not yet definite and consultations, with the sector, staff and unions, are to follow. However, The Stage understands that the new operating structure is expected to be in place by July 2013, with redundancies announced this November.

In response to enquiries by The Stage, ACE issued a statement that said: “As a result of the government’s requirement that ACE cuts the administrative costs as applied to the grant in aid for the arts by 50% by 2015, the organisation’s operating model is currently under review. As part of that process, management have shared their early thinking on a possible new model with staff and will shortly do so, through informal consultation, with the arts and cultural sector.”

Liz Forgan, outgoing chair of the arts council, said last year that cutting the organisation’s administration budget in half would mean “drastic change” for ACE.

At that time, she added: “Our staff are entrepreneurs, impresarios, coaches, investigators and marriage brokers. They are counsellors, experts and advice services. They are not all perfect but I will fight anyone who talks about them as if they were simply ATM machines for doling out cash.”

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