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Arts council to face £11.6m of further cuts

Arts Council England will have its budgets for 2013 to 2015 cut by £11.6 million, following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Last week, it was announced that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport would have its budget cut by 1% in 2013/14 and 2% in 2014/15. Today, the DCMS has revealed that those cuts will now be passed on directly to the arms-length bodies it funds, including the arts council. This will mean that ACE will receive a £3.9 million cut in 2013/14 and a £7.7 million cut in 2014/15.

These are in-settlement cuts and are on top of reductions to funding already announced at the comprehensive spending review in 2010. Meanwhile, it is feared that there could be further cuts when the next comprehensive spending review is undertaken – it is now planned for the first half of 2013.

ACE has not indicated how the £11.6 million of cuts will be passed on the arts organisations it funds, but has stressed that the cash will come from its grant in aid budgets for national portfolio organisations and museums. ACE chief executive Alan Davey warned that – combined with cuts to arts funding by many local councils – the in-settlement cuts would make the situation for the arts “very challenging”.

He said: “The government’s intention seems to have been that Whitehall departments absorb any cuts themselves from efficiencies but since the DCMS has already given itself a 50% administration cut – which was also applied to the arts council and other NDPBs – the department’s latest cuts have been passed straight on to the bodies it funds.

“What is clear is that our grant in aid budgets for national portfolio organisations and museum activity will reduce by 1% and 2%. We must now look closely at the figures and decide how we will pass these cuts on.

“Some organisations are also having to deal with local authority cuts and so the situation is extremely challenging.”

Meanwhile, culture secretary Maria Miller, writing in the DCMS blog [1] following the cuts announcement, said that while she acknowledged the cuts would be “painful”, it had not been possible to protect the DCMS’ sectors because “the taxpaying public simply wouldn’t accept that doing so was appropriate”.

She added: “We know these reductions will pose real challenges to our sectors and funded organisations. We’ve always known that cutting the deficit was bound to involve reducing public spending – how could it be otherwise? Yes, we acted in 2010 to increase the amount of Lottery money going into our sectors. And, yes, of course we know that Lottery money and grant-in-aid are not interchangeable, and that the additionality principle whereby Lottery money cannot be used as a substitute for public funding, must be protected. But for all that, our changes to the Lottery do mean that a great deal more money will go into the arts and heritage of this country from that source in the future.

“And finally, we hope that by passing these cuts on in as swift a fashion as possible, we are able to maximise the time our sectors have to prepare for the tough decisions they will face in making the savings.”