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ACE chair Peter Bazalgette – business must ‘re-enter’ arts funding

Arts Council England chair Peter Bazalgette. Photo: Philippa Gedge
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Newly appointed Arts Council England chairman Peter Bazalgette has used his first keynote speech to call on UK business to do more to support the arts.

Speaking at an event at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London today, Bazalgette warned that “things were getting tougher” for the arts and it needed a “grand partnership” – of the arts council, local authorities, education, private and business support – to come together to invest in culture across the UK.

He specifically called on business to do more. According to recent Arts & Business research, corporate funding for the arts has fallen since the beginning of the recession.

Bazalgette said: “Many British businesses are now much better off than they’d like to say. They’ve spent the last three or four years cleaning up their balance sheet, getting rid of debt, deleveraging. They are in good shape but they haven’t re-entered what I would call their social commitment and their public responsibility to the community they are in. If they do, they will benefit from it.”

Meanwhile, he also said that arts organisations should play a central role in the Heseltine Plan for regional growth.

“Arts and cultural organisations are ready and willing to play their part in unlocking funds for the regions,” he said. “I call on the local economic partnerships pitching for that regional money to include arts and culture at the heart of their bids.”

He added: “We are living in tough economic times and I can see that in these times public funds for the arts and culture may well come under more pressure. But let us state unequivocally that there remains a political consensus in our country in favour of public funding of the arts. I would dare anybody to disagree with this.”

Bazalgette also urged the arts community to avoid creating a “victim culture” by always focusing on cuts – saying the industry should celebrate its successes instead.

The full speech is available to listen to here

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