Friday, March 30, 2007

Grants For The Arts cuts

Lyn Gardner on The Guardian Theatre Blog has news of a big cut in the Arts Council's Grants For The Arts funding. Even though many writers had bad experiences trying to negotiate the bureaucracy of this scheme, it's one of the few that is open individuals as well as organisations.
Two weeks ago it was announced that £675million of lottery funding would be diverted from the arts in order to pay for the Olympics, but nobody realised quite how quickly and painfully the cuts would start to bite. Now we do, and it hurts a great deal. As of Sunday April 1st the Arts Council's Grants for the Arts scheme will suffer a whopping 35% cut. This means that during the funding year 2007/2008 only £54m will be awarded, down from £83m in the current financial year.

The Arts Council has made no formal announcement of this devastating cut which will hit large and small and across all art forms. It says that the website will be changed next week to explain stricter criteria for Grants for the Arts applications including a cap on funding and new rules that mean all projects must start and finish in the year in which money is awarded. But the decision was obviously made in some haste because as late as last week some Arts Council officers were still unaware that the cuts were taking place. It comes, says the Arts Council, because of the knock on effect of Olympic funding but also because sales of lottery tickets have been steadily falling, a decline in income speeded by the diversion of money into special Olympic scratch-cards and other games. Those who warned when lottery funding of the arts began that the arts should not be dazzled by the apparent cash bonanza but realise that the history of lotteries in other countries suggested that sales do decline, have been proved right in their predictions.

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