Still hurting from the global financial crisis, the UK government announced further drastic spending cuts in its 2011 Budget. Shortly afterwards Arts Council England (ACE) revealed the impact Treasury’s decisions would have on its support for English arts orgs this financial year. These are some of the stats:
- more than 200 arts organisations lost their funding.
- of the 1,330 organisations that applied for funding for 2012 – 15, 638 organisations were not funded of which 206 had been regularly funded by ACE.
- while some orgs had their funding cut – either partially or completely – others were given an uplift in funding
- 110 new organisations were funded.
Overall, ACE passed on government cuts of 15% to the sector. For more information click here.
As the press reported, it was a day of mixed fortunes - obviously there were some very disappointed organisations out there but, equally, there were some very happy ones. It seems that ACE was aiming to strike some kind of balance of support to make sure that the sector, despite an overall reduction in funding, wasn’t forced to go into a shut down period, but instead is able to grow and progress.
In the face of the cuts, the UK Government has been quick to point out how much it values arts and culture and keen to highlight that it’s doing it’s best to provide adequate support to the sector whilst dealing with the challenges of addressing a massive budget deficit. Recognising the limitations of their own funding, part of this support has come in the form of them working to mobilise philanthropy; encouraging it to step in to plug the gap that Government cuts have created.
Arts & Business (the UK version of the Australian Business Arts Foundation which forges partnerships between the two sectors) will take a key role in connecting philanthropists with arts orgs, to try to leverage funding. A&B’s been quick of the blocks in fact and has already launched a new “challenge fund” , the Big Arts Give – a pilot fund with an initial pot of £500,000 which A&B hopes can stimulate £3m of new funding for the arts. The Art Fund also announced plans to increase by over 50% its funding for museums and galleries to buy and show art – an impressive increase in commitment from £4.5m to £7m per year – as well as news of a National Art Pass scheme which will give special access to art all over the UK.
This is all very positive stuff. What is perhaps even more positive is the recognition that more needs to be done to ensure that the sector can plan ahead with confidence. In fact two clear messages come through in the recent announcements and they are that:
- Government, in partnership with philanthropy, wants to fundamentally change the way people think about giving; and
- long-term thinking is critical, for example via the creation of endowments, development of legacy programs, fostering life-long giving, and strengthening fundraising capacity across the sector.
It’s not about quick-fix fundraising and that’s a significant step forward.
In reading about UK government funding cuts to the arts in England, I started to wonder what the score was in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, whose governments have devolved responsibility for arts and culture portfolios (the governments being the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly). I think people outside of the UK often forget about this important nuance in the UK’s power structure. Interestingly it doesn’t appear that they will be passing on big budget cuts to the arts in their countries. But I’ve digressed down a slippery slope here…. essentially, I’m going to end up questioning whether this is an indication that the arts and culture are more valued in these countries than they are in England when it’s not a level playing field to analyse (only some portfolios are devolved to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish governments leaving the rest, and their funding, the responsibility of the UK Treasury). Possibly something for another day. Just throwing it out there.
And now to Australia. It’s hard to make any major comparative commentary at this point because the 2011 budget is not due to be announced for another couple of weeks. What is certain is that Wayne Swan is going to have to make “savage cuts” to his budget after Treasury figures showed a $13bn fall in economic growth for the 2010/11 financial year (the $13bn deficit being accounted for by the cost of the Queensland flood devastation – $9bn, the Japanese tsunami – $2bn, Cyclone Yasi – $1bn and the weaker economy – $1bn). http://www.theage.com.au/national/budget-reveals-massive-slump-20110415-1dhzv.html
It makes me wonder and worry about what this might mean for government support for the arts in Oz. Will there be big cuts? Will they be made with a recognition of the potential damage that they could cause to the sector here? Will government take steps similar to those taken in the UK to mitigate the impact of spending cuts? Perhaps.
Business Spectator featured a story on 19 April 2011 which revealed that federal government has set up a review of the arts sector that will look at ways to encourage more private sector giving. It will examine the extent of individual and business philanthropy and sponsorship within the arts and cultural sectors and will look at the effectiveness of current tax incentives that aim to encourage private investment in arts projects. Leading communications businessman and arts philanthropist Harold Mitchell will chair the review, which is due to report to government by the end of October 2011.
I wait with baited breath….
You can follow Claire Rimmer on Twitter @ClaireMRimmer
I was never a great cook, or, more accurately, I was never a confident cook. After undercooking, overcooking, and many years of not enough salt and butter, I realised that I just needed to relax in the kitchen and go with my gut instinct (too early for bad puns?). I realised I needed to settle in with the froth and bubble, and respond to what my tastebuds, rather than the instructions in the recipe book, were telling me. I guess it’s been the same for philanthropy. There are so many rules about how to give and how to give well, and many of them conflicting. And it’s so easy to be paralysed by indecision. After four years working in philanthropy, I’m realising more and more that it’s the gut instinct that matters. We can imbibe all the best practice, all the case studies and all the evaluation outcomes we want in order to inform our practice, but what’s really important is the human stuff. How we feel about it. What our heads and our hearts are saying.
My background is in the arts. I completed an undergraduate degree in Music at the University of Melbourne, then went on to do a Masters of Management (Arts and Cultural Management). I worked for a number of years in arts management, and then moved into philanthropy. I’ve been a Program Manager at The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund for just over four years, and still love the daily challenges, the inspirational projects, and most of all, the people. I look after the Arts and Humanities program of the Sidney Myer Fund, the Sustainability and the Environment program of The Myer Foundation, and the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards. I also manage the Communications Portfolio for the organisations, and Chair the Arts Affinity Group of Philanthropy Australia.
Through my musings on this blog, I hope to share some of the heart moments and some of the head moments in my life as a philanthrocrat – from “in the shell”. It’s a great opportunity to air some of my ponderings, question my own practice, and to start the conversations with those interested in the sector.
While I’m currently enjoying adding loads of butter and salt to my scrambled eggs, it’s likely that a few of you will remind me to watch my cholesterol and blood pressure. And knowing my cooking history, I might just revert to the recipe book for the next Sunday brekky. And that, for me, is what this is about – the conversation, the dialogue, and the push and pull of the complex issues we face in philanthropy. Or maybe just a chat about how to scramble eggs.
You can follow Debra Morgan on Twitter @debmorgan22