Later this month the government will announce the fortunate few recipients of the Arts Council England (ACE) funding. But while not everyone is convinced that the arts should be relying on government funding some projects are already feeling the effects. Ian Pennington explains for the Manchester MULE.
Last October ACE announced a 29.6 per cent cut to their budget over the next four years, with 6.9 per cent immediately trimmed from the majority of funds. ACE Chief Executive Alan Davey told MULE that the ruling would have “a significant impact on the cultural life of this country.”
In January, there was an inevitable scramble for the limited funds. According to ACE “approximately 1,340 arts organisations across the country submitted a request to be part of the new portfolio.” Davey, in something of an understatement, admits via the ACE website that, “demand for funding will outstrip supply.”
Many will be left without the funding they had hoped for and by the time the cuts have filtered down through the hierarchy (larger organisations tend to get their money first and more regularly), smaller independent groups will be left to feed on scraps.
Many organisations are already feeling the effects. Christina Pavlou, former curator at the recently closed Mooch N4 Street Art Gallery is one. Now unemployed due to the closure of her project she told MULE, “The strain can still be felt in the privately funded sector. With Mooch N4 we were completely independently funded, with the income on sales supporting the payment of staff, rent, electricity and publicity. There was a definite drop in sales when the arts cuts were announced, and as a result we did not have the income to stay open. We decided to close rather than change our independence by getting funding and having to follow what the government says we should do.”
However not everyone shares this opinion. Mark Devereux Director of Blank Media insists that all is not lost following the cuts. “There are potentially both good and bad implications and time will only tell over how each organisation, gallery, artist and creative reacts and responds. As the Director of a small arts organisation, I feel our role is now even more integral in making sure the platform and opportunities are given to emerging artists and nurturing the future artists for the next generation.”
But even he admits his organisation is now seeking funding “[we are] currently working on a number of funding applications to help the future of the organisation, increasing the support we are able to give to emerging artists.” He continues “We are well aware this is our next big challenge.”
The overriding sentiment is one of stoicism; “If we start worrying about how the cuts will affect this, that and the other it will spurn creativity even further,” offers Devereux. “Groups work within their means, continue to create platforms and raise the interest in the fantastic work by the artists they support. We should do what we are good at – think outside the box…”