Arts Cuts a Survival Guide: What next for the arts?
Following a meeting today, at the Young Vic of cross arts representatives, an open letter was published, directed at Prime minister David Cameron. The meeting was attended by over 500 concerned members of the arts community. The consensus was drawn that the potential contribution to the economy from the arts was far greater than any other sector of business in the UK. This is, certainly, one of value. We are afraid that an essential value of art, a means by which people and societies achieve their full human potential, is in danger of being treated as a side effect.
We understand that, in the short term, cuts to public investment in the arts are inevitable whether we feel they are justified or not. The purpose of this meeting looked to the future. We are concerned that if we do not collectively make a forceful and articulate case for public investment in the arts, those in control of future spending rounds may assume that we believe 2011 to 2013 levels of funding to be adequate. We feel it is urgent to raise these ideas with colleagues working across the cultural sector and, together, to communicate our feelings about the future to Government.
Dear Prime Minister
We know that your government values the arts and understands their ability to transform lives and build communities. We are therefore writing to you to ask that the Coalition Government opens a dialogue with the cultural sector on its long term policy for public investment in the arts and the cultural fabric of this country.
We accept that an immediate reduction in public investment in the arts is unavoidable. We are, however, deeply concerned that the cut of 30% to the Arts Council’s core budget and of 15% to national museums may indicate an intention to reduce public investment in the arts in the longer term, irrespective of the UK’s economic fortunes. We believe that to continue into the future with the levels of investment planned for 2011 to 2014 will do lasting damage to the sector’s capacity to deliver the public and social benefits it can provide. The pressure on local authority budgets is of special concern, since this is already having an impact on the local, small scale and grassroots organisations that are the seed bed for social growth.
As is widely recognised, a comparatively small quantity of public investment in the arts provides the R&D that feeds our famously thriving and profitable creative industries. As makers and producers of the arts and culture we develop innovative relationships, expand our audiences, diversify our income, explore and exploit new technologies. But to go further we need your help.
We welcome the government’s recent measures to make it easier for people to give to charities. Nonetheless, we need public investment at national and local level to develop new work and new ways of working in communities that cannot afford access to the arts.
We worry that the unintended consequences of proposed policies in the education sector limit young people’s access to creativity and cultural learning. We watch with concern how changes in Higher Education funding will affect students of arts and humanities as well as the many types of vocational training the arts and culture rely on.
With your help we can make the highest level of artistic achievement widely available, enhancing the wellbeing of millions while enlarging our understanding of the world we share. Culture delights, unites, enlightens, transforms, provokes, enrages. We hope you agree that it is not an embellishment of democracy, but is essential to a creative and open society.
We hope that you will be willing to meet a group of us to explore what progress we might make in achieving what we are sure are very similar goals for the future.
Gemma Bodinetz – Artistic Director Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
Michael Boyd – Artistic Director Royal Shakespeare Company
Farooq Chaudhry – Producer Akram Khan Company
Christina Coker – Chief Executive Youth Music
Marcus Davey – Chief Executive and Artistic Director the Roundhouse
Siobhan Davies – Artistic Director Siobhan Davies Dance, Studios and Relay
Richard Eyre – Director
Shreela Ghosh – Director Free Word
Tony Hall – Chief Executive Royal Opera House
Karena Johnson – Chief Executive & Artistic Director The Broadway, Barking
David Jubb – Joint Artistic Director and Chief Executive Battersea Arts Centre
Jude Kelly – Artistic Director Southbank Centre
Akram Khan – Artistic Director/Choreographer/Dancer
Judith Knight – Director Artsadmin
David Lan – Artistic Director Young Vic
Richard Mantle – General Director Opera North
Sandy Nairne – Director National Portrait Gallery
Lucy Perman – Executive Director Clean Break
Mark Rubinstein – Producer
Anthony Sargent – General Director The Sage Gateshead
Charles Saumarez Smith – Chief Executive Royal Academy of Arts
Jenny Sealey – Artistic Director Graeae Theatre Company
Alistair Spalding – Chief Executive and Artistic Director Sadler’s Wells
Gavin Stride – Director Farnham Maltings
Kenneth Tharp – Chief Executive The Place
David Whelton – Managing Director Philharmonia Orchestra
Cc Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport / Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries