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North ‘needs £691m extra arts funding’ to break even with London

The Case for Culture will be launched in November. Photo: Dave Head/Shutterstock Newcastle's River Tyne. Photo: Dave Head/Shutterstock
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The north of England would need nearly £700 million more in arts funding for it to match the levels afforded to London, new analysis has claimed.

The funding disparity between London and the regions has long been an area of debate within the arts, prompted by the 2013 Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital report, which found that Arts Council England allocated more than five times as much spending per resident to London organisations than it did to those outside the capital in 2012/13.

Since then, the Arts Council has worked to rebalance the subsidy between London and the rest of England, and in its latest funding round allocated 60% of its national portfolio funding outside London.

However, the Institute for Public Policy Research North has estimated that in order for the north of England to get the same Arts Council funding per head as London, it would still need an extra £691 million over the 2018-2022 period.

Per year, the current allocation works out at £17.90 per head in London and £6.70 per year in the north, which covers the North East, the North West, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

IPPR’s analysis follows the government’s announcement of a £15 million culture fund to coincide with the Great Exhibition of the North, taking place in Newcastle and Gateshead in 2018.

The bidding process for capital grants – of up to £4 million – has now opened, however the money was first announced in 2016.

Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: “Arts funding is yet another way in which central government favours the capital over the north, and re-announcing money in this way isn’t fooling anyone. The north has a range of talent and cultural assets that the government consistently fails to support in the same way as London.”

He added: “Culture is more than a nice-to-have, it’s a key driver of economic prosperity, attracting and retaining high skilled workers and providing jobs for many thousands.”

A spokeswoman for Arts Council England stressed the funding body was “actively addressing the important challenge of increasing investment outside London”.

“70% of lottery will be spend beyond the capital between 2015 and 2018 and we will invest an additional £170 million outside London in our next national portfolio. This includes 51 new organisations in the north of England.

“We want to build capacity outside the capital – enabling more artists and organisations to do exciting work across our cities, towns and villages. We must do this without damaging London’s cultural offer, recognising everything is connected in a cultural ecology that spreads across England and internationally.”

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