Supporters of the arts should back the campaign and help to promote it
24 September 2010
BECTU is encouraging all members and lovers of the arts to pledge their support for the National Campaign for the Arts' I Value The Arts campaign.
The campaign seeks to involve the public in discussion about the arts they value ahead of the October Comprehensive Spending Review. The government is expected to announce deeper cuts in public funding which will affect the creative sector.
BECTU has a major interest in the future for arts funding overall and is a long-standing supporter of the NCA.
Most importantly, however, the union represents thousands of members in arts centres, theatres and live events whose employers rely on public subsidy.
The union's latest statement on arts funding was made in a submission to parliament's Culture Media and Sport Committee in August. The committee is conducting an enquiry into arts and heritage funding at a time when the DCMS has asked Arts Council England (ACE) and other funding bodies to plan for cuts of 25%-30% over the next four years. This in addition to the £23m cut from ACE's budget for 2010/11 imposed on the arrival of the coalition government in May 2010.
Commenting on the prospect of up to 30% cuts in public funding BECTU states:
"The specific impact of the cuts is obviously impossible to outline in detail at this stage. However, it is already clear that their sheer scale is likely to have severe consequences:
- ACE has estimated that a 25% cut could result in as many as 200 regularly-funded organisations losing all public subsidy (constituting almost a quarter of all such organisations).
- A 30% cut could lead to a reduction of £134m per year in ACE’s budget for regularly funded organisations – small in the context of the economy as a whole but potentially devastating for the arts sector.
- This could lead to the closure or partial closure of leading theatres, galleries, museums and other arts organisations. The financial operating model of many arts organisations will simply not be able to sustain cuts on the scale proposed.
- For many, there is a tipping point (into non-viability) of 10-15% of funding.
- Short of closure, other theatres will simply stage fewer productions; hire fewer technicians, craft people, designers and performers; and tour less.
- Broader education and community initiatives stemming from the arts sector are also likely to be seriously affected, as is the long term development of new work and talent for the future.
- The scale and urgency of the cuts required also threatens a repetition of the problems of implementation experienced in a previous ACE spending review, including inadequate notice of the cuts, decisions based on flawed information and unclear criteria – all of which compound the financial problems of the cuts themselves.
In addition, BECTU forsees that the proposed cuts will:
- Reverse the gains made in recent years in the international standing of UK arts and cultural organisations.
- Lead to a loss of vital expertise and, for a whole generation of young people, to significantly diminished access to arts and culture.
- Inflict severe structural damage to our arts sector’s internationally-admired and emulated model of mixed (public/commercial/private) funding.
- Represent a return, of unprecedented severity, to the stop-start-stop pattern of arts funding that the UK has only recently sought to reverse.
- Impact negatively on the economy as a whole through economic multiplier effects and the interlinking of the arts with the creative industries/tourism/and other ancillary sectors.
Staffing and skills under threat
The union also uses its contribution to highlight the grave consequences for staff of severe cuts, with unemployment, poorer conditions, casualisation, loss of skills and an undermining of progress on diversity all set to result.