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Arts face £124m extra local funding cuts

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Local authority support for culture will fall by a further £124 million in 2013/14, according to figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

DCLG has just published the budgeted expenditure for local authorities in 2013/14. The figures reveal that while the overall spend by local authorities will actually increase slightly from 2012/13 to 2013/14 – from £98.4 billion to £102.2 billion – spending on culture will fall. In fact, its cut of 4.2% – from £2.9 billion to £2.8 billion – is the largest percentage cut to any sector at local government level.

David Brownlee, executive director of the Theatrical Management Association, said: “Because of the way cuts were ‘frontloaded’ to local government at the last comprehensive spending review in 2010, we knew there would be major pressures on local authorities’ cultural budgets in 2011/12 and 2012/13. This year should have heralded a brief respite before the next wave of recently announced cuts, but instead, authorities in England are planning on average a further 4.2% reduction in their investment in culture.

“These cuts are more than any other service area and show clearly that national reductions in funding to local government are disproportionately impacting on support for high quality arts, libraries, parks and leisure facilities. If people value these services, they must make their voices heard to local decision makers.”

The TMA, along with The Stage and Equity, are partners in the My Theatre Matters! campaign, encouraging audiences to support their local theatres.

The budgeted local cuts come on top of reductions to central government support for the arts. Arts Council England’s grant-in-aid funding fell by £15 million from 2012/13, while exchequer funding for the arts has also fallen in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, ACE’s exchequer funding is due to fall by a further £9 million in 2014/15 with another 5% to be cut in 2015/16.

DCLG’s figures come as playwright Mark Ravenhill, speaking at the launch of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, warned the arts sector should start looking for alternative sources of revenue in case public funding is removed completely in the future.

He said: “I think we need to have a plan B. What if the public funding of the arts, which has earned itself an unassailable position in some other countries, was a passing moment in British life? So it’s at least worth thinking: ‘No public money’… Maybe the artist free of any relationship with any public funding body is freest of all?”

To sign up to the My Theatre Matters! campaign visit www.mytheatrematters.com