Published on October 30, 2012 | by Adam Leyland


Concerns over art funding

Five stacks of coins in decreasing value, illustrating the dwindling budget for the arts council.

Worrying times for supporters of the arts. [Helena Mueller]

Staff and students from Central Saint Martins have voiced serious concerns after a local council arts spending review revealed a huge drop in funding in the last few years.

The new study, commissioned by Arts Development UK, looked into arts spending in England and Wales.

It found that spending on the arts by local councils in Britain has fallen by more than a third since the beginning of the recession.

Government spending on local arts councils has also fallen by 38 per cent since 2008.


Meanwhile, 55 local authorities in England and Wales have closed their arts services since 2003.

The study also discovered that profits made from arts projects on a local level have almost halved since last year alone.

Capital spending – on large infrastructure projects like building galleries or buying expensive production equipment – is now almost non-existent.

Only three out of a total of 433 local councils in England and Wales recorded any capital spending at all – only £1,688 each.

The results also showed, however, that arts spending had stayed relatively similar compared with 2011, when local arts spending was hit considerably more.

“Pleasant surprise” 

Arts Development UK Administrator, Pete Bryan, told Arts London News that the results were actually more positive than expected.

He said: “The review was even worse last year. It is actually a pleasant surprise in comparison.

“Art spending has somewhat stablised in the short term, although we’re expecting further cuts in the future,” he added.

“The opportunities are out there but emerging graduates need to maximise their opportunities, make partnerships, whilst adapting to the new circumstances within the arts” Hannah Deary.

CSM BA Textiles student George Morgan, 21, said although the news was a major disappointment to graduate art students, opportunities remained.

“To be honest it is pretty terrifying, but I do think that you have to go to the right councils if you want funding,” he said.

“A friend of mine has just opened up an art gallery in Maidstone, Kent. She’s been given loads of grants from the local council, and it’s an amazing space,” he added.

BA Graphic Design Course Leader at CSM, Alan Baines, remained less positive.

“Any downturn in funding will affect local arts organisations and artists of various professions.

“The government has said all along they’re looking for private funding to make up for the shortage of public funding.

“I can’t see that happening quickly. I can only imagine things will get worse,” Baines said.

Concerns for museums 

CSM BA Fashion with Printing student Anna Lord, 23, told ALN she was more concerned about the effect the funding cuts could have on museums and art galleries in London.

“Museums being free is a big part of our access to culture in London, and they’re really important to students,” she said.

In response to worries about future employment for recent arts graduates, University of the Arts London has developed a number of initiatives aimed at creating opportunities for students.

Student and Graduate Development Officer for Student Enterprise and Employability (SEE), Hannah Deary, highlighted the importance of helping graduates find employment.

“SEE are working hard within UAL to develop more and more opportunities for students and graduates.

“We offer funding opportunities with grants of up to £5,000 to support innovative and high calibre creative business ideas.

“The opportunities are out there but emerging graduates need to maximise their opportunities, make partnerships, whilst adapting to the new circumstances within the arts,” Deary said.



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