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Most arts bodies expect council cuts to hit culture spend, claims report

George Osborne. Photo: HM Treasury
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More than half of arts organisations believe that forthcoming reductions to local authority grants will result in direct cuts to their funding, a new report suggests.

It has prompted calls for the government to look urgently to the private sector to make up for impending shortfalls.

The finding is part of a survey, prepared annually by think tank Arts Quarter, which looks into the effects of the recession on culture.

Of the respondents in receipt of local authority funding, 53% said that they expect their council subsidy to be cut, with a third believing that the cut could be more than 10%.

The report’s publication follows plans outlined in chancellor George Osborne’s spending review, which revealed that central government funding to local authorities will be cut by around £6.1 billion by 2019/20.

More than 300 arts organisations responded to the survey, with theatres making up the largest proportion.

The report, called Revenue Generation in the Arts 2015/16, said respondents had highlighted cuts to regional funding as among their “greatest concerns”.

Despite worries over local authority funding, two thirds of respondents said they were confident they could maintain current levels of subsidy from their respective arts council by 2018, with 15% of those believing they could achieve more funding.

Overall, the report’s author, John Nicholls, said the findings showed “clear evidence of an ever-shifting revenue mix in the arts”, with 61% of respondents saying they are seeking to enhance existing earned revenue streams for their organisations.

Creating new areas of earned income, attracting private sector funding and developing new fundraising techniques were all highlighted by organisations as important factors in mitigating potential cuts.

Despite this, Nicholls said that the sentiments shared by respondents revealed a “continued fragility” in the process of moving away from reliance on public-sector support.

“It is unclear whether the efforts [organisations] have been making to build revenues from other sources will be enough to recoup any cuts that may be levied in the months ahead,” he said.

Nicholls added: “There’s much that still needs to be done by policymakers to encourage higher levels of support for the arts from within all areas of the private sector, and we’d actively encourage all with the powers to shift opinion in favour of encouraging greater levels of giving to the arts to do so in earnest and with speed, if the ambitions as set out in these findings are to be realised.”

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