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London receives twice as much arts funding as rest of England, report claims

London's West End. Photo: Alex Brenner London's West End. Photo: Alex Brenner
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Organisations in London receive almost twice as much arts funding as the rest of England combined, despite accounting for just a third of the country’s cultural offering.

This is one of the findings of a new study carried out by the same team that wrote Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital in 2013.

The report also reveals that the average funding per London organisation is £2.1 million, compared with £495,000 for organisations outside the city.

The authors of the report claim the imbalance between London and the regions is “static” and shows little sign of change.

Called A Policy for the Arts and Culture in England – The Next Steps?, the report has been written to influence the government’s new white paper on culture, expected later this year.

It highlights the need for more distinction between Treasury and Lottery funding for the arts.

The report claims there are 702 organisations in the national cultural infrastructure, which are defined as those that are funded on a multi-year basis by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, or by Arts Council England.

In total, the organisations receive £775 million annually, with London organisations getting £557 million and accounting for 261 (37%) of the 702 organisations.

By contrast, 441 organisations in the regions receive £218 million between them.

The average arts funding for companies outside London is £495,000 – 23% of the London figure.

Its analysis claims Londoners receive £65.18 per head for the arts organisations in the capital, compared with £4.91 per head outside London.

This echoes the findings of a report that the same team wrote in 2014, which found that the funding imbalance would get worse by 2018.

The report also highlights that Arts Council England’s decision to move an extra 5% of Lottery funds outside London amounts only to an “improvement outside London of 25p per head”.

Its Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital report in 2013 also claimed that ACE was allocating more than five times as much spending per resident to London organisations as those outside the capital in 2012/13.

The new report concludes: “The white paper should contain a straightforward commitment to achieving fundamental change from the present imbalances to an England where great regional centres have the resources within their own mixed portfolio of cultural organisations to work with their international and metropolitan peers as equals.”

It states that the funding required for this should come from taxation and warns that funding challenges to local government “risk substantial damage to the foundations of our cultural life in local communities”.

The report also calls on the government to address the potential that the arts can play in “supporting and enhancing individual and community well-being in the local places where we live our daily lives”.

It says there should be an emphasis on the deployment of funds to communities and individuals “facing the greatest challenges”. The resources for this, it suggests, should come from Lottery funding, because of the fact most Lottery funding is “provided voluntarily and disproportionately by the poorer in society”.

The report is written by Christopher Gordon, David Powell and Peter Stark.

Responding, ACE chief executive Darren Henley agreed that it was “essential” that spending is spread across England.

He said that by the end of 2018, ACE would have increased investment of Lottery money outside London so at least 75% of revenue will be invested outside the capital.

“The proportion of our grant-in-aid investment in areas outside of London has also been increasing,” he added.

However, Henley warned that the biggest threat to funding was on local authority arts budgets.

“It’s clear there’s an important role for bodies like Arts Council England that have a national overview to help places realise opportunities by investing at scale,” he said, and stressed that Lottery money distributed through ACE was used for touring and work with young people.

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