Arts sector needs to make “holistic case” for public subsidy – ACE

Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England. Photo: Nick Gurney
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Arts Council England chiefs Peter Bazalgette and Alan Davey have said the cultural sector has 18 months to make the “holistic case” for public investment in the arts before the next general election.

ACE chairman Bazalgette said the industry has been unable to articulate the “whole picture” for funding the arts, while chief executive Davey said the government wanted to hear arguments in addition to the economic one.

Bazalgette said: “The unanimity [of public funding for the arts across parties] has gone on for so long we’ve forgotten why we’re doing it. It seemed to me we couldn’t articulate the whole picture of why we make a public investment in the arts and what the public benefits are. As a result, we couldn’t develop social and political polices for the 21st century that we need and that are going to drive that benefit further.”

Davey said: “We’ve got the next 18 months to make all the elements of the case for funding the arts because after the next election, when the new government comes in, there will very quickly be some spending discussions.”

Bazalgette also warned: “My experience is that in government, among politicians and civil servants arts and culture is very low down the agenda, and these things are not understood.”

The pair were speaking at the Royal Society of Arts to mark the launch of a document, Towards Plan A – a New Political Economy for Arts and Culture, produced by ACE and the RSA. The report contains four papers written in response to seminars hosted by the two organisations and makes recommendations for the development of the arts industry.