London Mayor Boris Johnson has warned against cutting the capital’s arts funding after a group of MPs asked Arts Council England to focus on regional arts funding and reduce its focus on the capital. This call came after a new House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee report that said there was a “clear funding imbalance” and that The Arts Council should “restore some balance” across the country; to restore balance to UK arts funding.
More than £600m of taxpayers’ and Lottery money to galleries, theatres and other cultural organisations per year by the Arts Council England; yet a separate study last year calculated the imbalance amounted to £69 per head in London and £4.60 elsewhere in England. But Mr Johnson stated that he considered cutting funding to London would be “an act of sabotage for one of our country’s greatest assets”.
“London has long received a disproportionate share of arts funding, something which even the Arts Council acknowledges,” the select committee told the BBC.”To a limited extent this reflects London’s position as the capital city and a world cultural centre, however, there remains a clear funding imbalance in favour of London at the expense of taxpayers and lottery players in other parts of the country”. The committee further added: “The Arts Council is well-placed to restore some balance. It must do so with greater urgency if it is to realise its declared ambition to engineer the provision of great art and culture for everyone.”
Responding to the committee’s report Mr Johnson stated that this opinion was based on “spurious calculations and a partial consideration of how the arts are funded”.
The Mayor continued: “The report represents a lost opportunity, reigniting the overly simplistic London vs the Regions debate around arts funding,” he said. “London is one of the great world cities for culture, attracting visitors in the millions which helps generate billions the economy of the whole country. Sacrificing this particular golden goose for a bit of glib London-bashing will do little to improve cultural provision in the regions and would be an act of sabotage for one of our country’s greatest assets.”