Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Burnham issues funding warning

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has warned the arts sector that it won't be immune from the pressures on public spending in coming years. In an interview with Alistair Smith in The Stage Burnham said:
"In the pre-budget report, the chancellor indicated that further efficiencies would have to be secured in the third year of the spending review. So, all parts of government have to hear that message and live in the real world. Some people may not like it, but the arts has to live in the real world too. Nobody is immune from what is happening.

“Everybody needs, in this time that we’re in, to plan prudently and allow themselves maximum room for manoeuvre, because we...don’t know what 2009 will hold."
Over on The Guardian Theatre Blog, Lyn Gardner says that rather than being a threat, this might be an opportunity for theatre practitioners to break away from relying on public subsidy.
Nobody disputes the importance of public subsidy for the arts, but this is a can-do generation who see the credit crunch as an opportunity rather than a disaster (anyone for pick'n'mix theatre in an empty Woolworths?). Despite all the initiatives and money spent, none of the government's targets for public participation in arts activity between 2005 and 2008 have been met. Can the problems of over-reliance on public subsidy and generating new audiences be solved by simply thinking outside the box?

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