Council spend on all culture halved across England

The Public Campaign for the Arts has published a new analysis of government data which found that local authority expenditure on all cultural services has halved across England since 2009-10.

The data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities covers spend on public libraries, entertainment venues, museums, galleries and recreation facilities.

The findings have promoted the Public Campaign for the Arts to warn that further cuts will be a hammer blow to local arts services, especially given that the cultural sector has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures coincide with former Prime Minister Theresa May criticising the decision by Conservative councillors in her own constituency of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to completely abolish grant funding of the arts. The authority’s 2022-23 Budget allocates £0 to the arts for the first time in living memory. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is the second most affluent local authority in England.

Jack Gamble, director of the Public Campaign for the Arts, said: “The arts are not a luxury – they provide vital benefits to our lives and communities. We appreciate the financial pressures that local councils are under, partly due to cuts from national government since 2010, but sacrificing our cultural services is not the answer. We have to find a way to keep funding them alongside other services – it shouldn’t be an either/or.”

Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead since 1997, said: “When I have visited Norden Farm I have seen first-hand the excellent programmes Norden Farm delivers and just how valuable their work is for the local community. I understand that the council’s decision will have caused concern.

“Since this announcement I have been speaking with the council about Norden Farm and I am continuing to urge the Council to reconsider their position – to see whether some support can be given to Norden Farm. It is my hope that when the consultant’s report is published, Norden Farm and RBWM will be able to work together to find a solution which will be in the best interest of the entire local community.”

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