Local council spending on culture in the UK down £236m since 2010
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Local council spending on culture in the UK down £236m since 2010

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A new report by arts+Council+England'>Arts Council England (ACE) has said that local authority investment in arts and culture in Britain has decreased by £236m (US$335m, €296.4m) since 2010 – a near 17 per cent drop.

The report – Funding Arts and Culture in a Time of Austerity – said that local authorities are the most significant source in terms of culture funding, with a collective annual investment into Museums, theatres, libraries and more totalling £1.1bn (US$1.6bn, €1.4bn). By comparison, ACE invests around £700m (US$993m, €879m) and national museums have an annual budget of £450m (US$639m, €565m).

The report adds however that local authorities are under “unprecedented pressure”, with significant cuts being made to culture budgets. Since the 2008 financial crash, and especially since the 2010 Spending Review, local government has “borne the brunt of public spending cuts”.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, there was a 20 per cent reduction in general spending by local authorities in England between 2009/10 and 2014/15. Taking into account population growth, spending per person has reduced by 23 per cent.

In terms of funding for arts and culture, figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) showed that total spending by councils in England on arts and culture development and support, theatres and public entertainment, on museums and galleries, and on the library service has declined from £1.42bn (US£2bn, €1.78bn) to £1.2 bn (US$1.7bn, €1.5bn) – a 16.6 per cent overall reduction. A positive to note from the figures is that the rate of reduction is less than the general figures, which suggests that local councils have tried to protect culture services where possible.

“Local government in England has been, and remains, a very significant funder of the arts and culture, with over a billion pounds still being invested in arts and cultural activity,” said the report. “Yet the impact of the significant cuts over the last five years, in this as in many other areas, cannot be ignored.

“The cuts are far from over, with the core grant to councils expected to halve over the current Spending Review period. Local government and cultural institutions alike will need to negotiate new relationships. Yet, if the cuts require change, then the devolution agenda allows for revolution, creating the scope for new institutional models, new relationships, and potential new income streams. This is challenging terrain and ever shrinking resources will make it harder to navigate, but there are already signs that councils and the cultural sector are beginning to feel out a way forward.”

To read the full Funding Arts and Culture in a Time of Austerity report, click here.

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A new report by Arts Council England (ACE) has said that local authority investment in arts and culture in Britain has decreased by £236m (US$335m, €296.4m) since 2010 – a near 17 per cent drop.
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