Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Arts funding cuts would be a "false economy" - Osborne

There've been some surprises of the better kind in the chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement. Here's what he said about the arts today.

Please note, the small print that follows in the days after these "good news" statements often contain other surprises: how the ACE will decide to divvy up its allocation remains to be seen. Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the ACE, has apparently described the funding settlement as "astonishing" (according to the BBC's arts correspondent Will Gompertz).
Britain’s not just brilliant at science. It’s brilliant at culture too.
One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport.
£1 billion a year in grants adds a quarter of a trillion pounds to our economy – not a bad return. So deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy.
Its core administration budget will fall by 20%, but I am increasing the cash that will go to the Arts Council, our national museums and galleries.
We’ll keep free museum entry – and look at a new tax credit to support their exhibitions and I will help UK Sport, which has been living on diminishing reserves, with a 29% increase in their budget – we’re going for gold in Rio and Tokyo.
The Right Honourable Member for Hull West and Hessle has personally asked me to support his city’s year of culture – and I am happy to do so.
The money for Hull is all part of a package for the Northern Powerhouse which includes funding the iconic new Factory Manchester and the Great Exhibition of the North. In Scotland, we will support the world famous Burrell Collection.
While here in London we’ll help the British Museum, the Science Museum, and the V&A move their collections out of storage and on display.
And we will fund the exciting plans for a major new home for the Royal College of Arts in Battersea.
And we’re increasing the funding for the BBC World Service, so British values of freedom and free expression are heard around the world.
And all of this can be achieved without raiding the Big Lottery Fund as some feared. It will continue to support the work of hundreds of small charities across Britain.

Here is the DCMS's response to the statement, which all looks pretty positive. It points out: "Less than 1 per cent of total government expenditure goes to culture, media and sport; sectors which account for almost a sixth of the UK economy." It does not contain one word about a new concert hall, which is also interesting.