Culture minister Ed Vaizey has claimed that it is “rubbish” to say that the arts are in crisis, insisting they are in “rude health”.
Speaking at the Local Government Association Conference this week, his speech came as Westminster City Council confirmed it was axeing all funding for the arts and Newcastle City Council approved plans to remove 50% of arts funding in the city. Sheffield and Staffordshire have also recently announced cuts to arts funding.
Vaizey said: “These are not easy times to be in government, at either national or local level. Faced with a crippling budget deficit, we are faced with difficult choices, some of which are painful to make. But we have to cut our cloth.
“That said, our creative and cultural sector is in rude health. The success of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad demonstrated to the world the richness of what it is to be British in the 21st Century, with all its quirks and eccentricity.”
Vaizey said that the government is committed to “safeguarding and nurturing our investment in culture, heritage and sport”, pointing to the extra money now going to the sectors from the National Lottery and stressing that almost £3 billion will go to the arts from the Lottery and Exchequer over the lifetime of the current parliament.
“I can assure you that the culture and the arts are important to the government. It seems ridiculous that I would have to state such a self-evident truth. I believe it is regrettable to observe some of the scaremongering, suggesting our arts and cultural sector is somehow ‘at risk’.”
The arts in the UK are “waving, not drowning”, he added.
The full speech is available here.