Monday, February 04, 2008

Arts Council announces final spending decisions

After the fury that followed the initial announcement of their draft funding plans until 2011, Arts Council England (ACE) has published the final decisions on who will get what.

As BBC News reports, following complaints and appeals 17 organisations who were originally lined up to have their funding axed have been reprieved. These include the Bush Theatre in London, The Northcott Theatre in Devon, Eastern Angles touring theatre and the National Student Drama Festival. The Old Vic in Bristol, which had been hoping for £3m, will at least get £2m.

However, some, such as The Derby Playhouse and The Drill Hall, have not had their grants renewed and others, such as Tara Arts, have had funding cut.

New ACE Chief Executive Alan Davey said:
“This has been the most far-reaching review of public funding of the arts in the history of the Arts Council and the first we have conducted as a single national organisation.

“It creates a real climate for excellence and innovation in the arts and I am excited by the prospect of working with the arts sector to make this vision a reality.”
Many critics and commentators, such as Lyn Gardner, disagree with Davey's positive spin.
Relations between the Arts Council and artists are now at rock-bottom. Even during the dark funding days of the late 80s and 90s, artists felt that they and the funders were on the same side. That is no longer the case. Arts Council bungling, its lack of transparency and dialogue with artists and its inability to take responsibility for its own actions means that instead of celebrating an 8% increase of funding to the theatre sector over the next three years, many feel furious and betrayed.

What should have been a party is being perceived as a bloodbath. And the Arts Council has only itself to blame.

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