UK sees a 17% reduction in local authority spending in arts and culture

A new report has detailed the extend of local funding cuts to art and culture related activities

 UK sees a 17% reduction in local authority spending in arts and culture

Local Authority investment in arts and culture has declined by £236 million, or 17% since 2010, according to a study published this week.

Arts Council England and the New Local Government Network (NLGN) published a report entitled Funding Arts and Culture in a Time of Austerity, which set out to detail the level of decline in funding from Local Authorities.

It found that the country has faced a 17% decline in funding in arts and culture, but London boroughs actually saw a 19% decrease during the same period of time.

Talking to Sir Bazelgette, he stated that the report was commissioned to "show what the true picture was."

He continued to say that despite George Osborne setting out a positive settlement in the Autumn Statement, and the first cultural white paper in 50 years reaffirming the importance of local government funding to the arts, "Government are nevertheless continuing its downward pressure on local government and reorganising local government, giving them bit more autonomy… but cutting central government grants."

"There are suns of money now flowing into arts and culture from other funding pots that don't show up as arts and culture expenditure, so the picture is not as dire as it appears because there is expenditure not measured as arts and culture investment. Nevertheless, it is still a great concern."

Sir Bazelgette qualified this by highlighting how Local Governments may invest in the arts but qualify it as a health expenditure, which subsequently could skew the findings.

"There is a growing understanding that arts and culture… can affect quality of life, it can affect mental health, and in the case of dance and other activities it can affect physical health too."

"There's a whole range of economic aspects. We don't put money in the arts because of economic benefits… that would be a pretty dull philistine approach but it would be foolish not to point out some of the economic benefits if there are some."

Despite these cuts, a Government report in January found that the creative sector is now growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy, generating £9.6m per hour, with a total value to the UK economy of £84.1bn.

The success of the creative sector in spite of these cuts was heralded as a success by Sir Bazelgette, who declared "it isn't all complete doom and gloom."

For more information on the New Local Government Network report, visit the website.

Photo by Kevin Bovard


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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