New report highlights arts funding imbalance

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has said that more must be done to the address the imbalance in arts funding between London and the rest of the country.

The committee has welcomed ‘the creative and innovative responses to funding pressures in the cultural sector across the UK’, and recognised signs of a funding shift towards the regions.

However, the report has revealed that current spending is disproportionate and call for a ‘better regional balance’. This is particularly necessary given that cultural organisations in London have more opportunities to increase alternative revenue streams through sponsorship and philanthropy than those in the regions.

The continual cut to culture services has also seen a national situation where it is predicted that one in five regional museums has either closed or will close. For example, five museums in Lancashire have been threatened with closure after council funding went from £1.3 million to £98,000 a year.

It is likely, the report predicts, that the biggest impact of cuts is likely to fall ‘where the cultural offering is already weak, with the result that those with most to gain from cultural investment will lose out’.

The report reports on the difference that partnerships can play - highlighting examples of good practice educational partnerships in Manchester and Hull - and how the incorporation of culture into the tourism economy has helped in areas like Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

The Countries of Culture report also calls for greater national coordination of lending and touring and says there is a strong case for a new national body to take charge of it.

Damian Collins, the chair of the committee, said: “There should be a greater appreciation of the cultural treasures and creative innovation to be found across the UK, and especially outside of London.

“Strong local leadership and innovation from regional arts and cultural organisations has produced some remarkable successes, but more needs to be done to avoid further closures of small museums and galleries, as funding from local authorities declines.”

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