U.K. Freezes Arts Grants Through 2008

Classic Arts News   U.K. Freezes Arts Grants Through 2008
Funding for Arts Council England will be flat from 2005 through 2008, the London Guardian reports. The U.K. Department of Culture, Media, and Sport, which oversees the ACE, announced yesterday its funding allocation for the next three years.

The grant to ACE, which funds a great deal of performing arts in the U.K., will stay at its 2005 level of Ô£413 million until 2008. Because the same amount of money will be worth less, due to inflation, the freeze amounts to a Ô£30 million cut, according to ACE chairman Christopher Frayling.

"It is extraordinary that the government has chosen to undercut the very success it helped to build since 1997," Frayling said. "We're right back to stop-start funding, which we hoped we had left behind."

The budget for the DCMS is said to have risen by 3.5 percent, leading arts groups to expect, if not great advances in funding, at least grants that would keep up with inflation. "We will be robbing Peter to pay Paul," Frayling said. "This prevents arts organizations from engaging in proper strategic planning. In fact, the arts have been very strategic and well-planned over the past few years. It would only have taken Ô£10 million to sustain this: chicken-feed in government terms."

ACE will announce its grants to arts organizations in March.

Museums, libraries, and galleries have done better under the new allotments, with an increase from Ô£578 million to Ô£620 million in 2007-08.

A spokesperson for the DCMS said that, all told, "we don't believe that any arts organizations will have to suffer unduly."

Reactions to the funding freeze from the performing-arts community were both furious and disappointed. Composer Michael Berkeley noted, in a Guardian interview, that the pressure to raise funds is very hard on artists, "which is why [former City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conductor] Simon Rattle is now in Berlin; he simply could not face fighting the system year in, year out and talking about money rather than music."

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