On culture cuts

Monday 21st June 2010

Arts Council England
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Last week’s announcement of immediate cuts in funding theatre by the Arts Council, totalling £19million, were greeted by sighs of relief. Which just shows how worried everybody is. As the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner says, they “won’t cause too much damage”. How so? Mainly because this is a “policy of equal misery for all”, in the words of Arts Professional magazine. Although this cut of about 0.5% will clearly hit smaller companies more than large ones, the consensus seems to be that it’s more or less fair. Amid this agreement, however, a small detail seems to have been forgotten. Some arts organisations will get bigger cuts: Arts & Business, for example, gets a 4% cut, facing a loss of £0.2m. Colin Tweedy, its Chief Executive, argues that “damaging philanthropy damages the arts”. Odd really. I thought that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the current government were keen to support philanthropic giving to the arts. By cutting Arts & Business so much, maybe the Arts Council is making a subtle point about the futility of business sponsorship. If so, shouldn’t they be open enough to say this directly?

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