UK Arts Community Faces Further Round of Government Cuts

UK Arts Community Faces Further Round of Government Cuts
George Osborne and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander leave the Treasury for the House of Commons on June 16, 2013
(© Getty)

On June 26, British chancellor George Osborne announced a further round of arts cuts in Britain as part of the government’s latest spending review. The Department for Culture Media and Sport’s resource budget will get a 7 percent cut, with museums and arts organizations experiencing a 5 percent reduction.

However, this will be compounded by additional restrictions on local government budgets. The Department for Communities and Local Government faces a 60 percent cut, reducing its resource budget by 10 percent, effectively further passing the debt burden onto local councils. 

Osborne’s program of cuts has already had far-reaching consequences in the British regions. In March 2013, Newcastle City Council announced a 50 percent cut to its art budget.

The reductions were not as severe as originally expected, as the Government had asked Arts Council England  the arms-length funding organisation it uses to distribute public money to arts organisations – to model for possible cuts of 5 percent, 10 percent, or 15 percent. As such, the arts community has greeted this latest news with guarded warmth.

“I am encouraged that the government has listened to our concerns and recognizes the value that arts and culture make to both the quality of people’s lives, and also to the economy,” said Sally O’Neill, interim chief executive of London’s Royal Opera House.

“I now look forward to working with Arts Council England as they determine how best to allocate their resources for the future. We recognize that the 5 percent cut will have a significant impact and we will continue to do all we can to support our colleagues across the sector, including those working in the smaller and regional companies who play such a vital role in the creative industries and who may also be impacted by the 10 percent cut to local governments.” 

Total Government spending for 2015-2016 will be £745 billion, said the Chancellor, with the Government finding savings of £11.5 billion.