A big lump o’coal for some English arts organisations


The Guardian reported yesterday on the Arts Council of England’s decision to axe funding for nearly 200 organisations, although a significant number will be enjoying large grant increases. Little comfort to the National Student Drama Festival, however, which looks set to lose its £52,000 grant in advance of its annual festival only a few months away…

With over £1 billion in their coffers, is the ACE’s decision savvy management or serious scrooging?:

The Arts Council admitted the pre-Christmas timing was bad, but said “tough decisions” had to be made. Its spokeswoman, Louise Wylie, said the criteria on which it was taking the funding decisions included access and breadth of audiences, and the excellence of work. The council has been taking decisions in tandem with a national review into excellence in the arts by Brian McMaster, former director of the Edinburgh International Festival. The government is expected to publish his report in January.

The news comes at what had been an atmosphere of good cheer in the arts after the Arts Council was given a higher than expected financial settlement by the government. But the council’s strategy is to hand out the money so that organisations can thrive rather than just survive. “In among the bad news for the minority, there is extraordinarily good news for the majority,” said Wylie.

It admits that there will be fewer organisations getting money, but points out that while 194 are seeing funding cut, another 80-odd are being added to its portfolio. (more)