Arts funding imbalance: more must be done report finds

15 December 2016

In its published report, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee applauds the creative and innovative responses to funding pressures in the cultural sector across the UK, but says more must be done to the address the imbalance in arts funding between London and the rest of the country.

Incentivising corporate sponsorship and partnerships

The Committee says the Government should consider how to incentivise greater corporate sponsorship and regionally based philanthropy, including through tax incentives where appropriate. The Government should also consider expanding existing tax breaks for the cultural sector, further simplifying the Gift Aid scheme, and publicising the estate duty relief schemes.

The report also focuses on the importance of partnerships and outreach from national to smaller regional organisations to addressing the geographical imbalance in cultural funding, and says conditions like having an outreach programme should be attached to grant funding from the DCMS and the Arts Council, to major national cultural institutions in London.

This should include for example greater national co-ordination on lending, to provide curatorial expertise on collections and also with practicalities such as security and transport. All DCMS funded national cultural institutions should be required to tour or provide collections outside London. Many do so already, like the British Museum and the Tate Network, but this should be a condition central government funding and recipients.

Local government cuts and case studies of good practice

Local government cuts have had a highly variable impact on provision of culture at the local level, particularly outside of London.  Where the impact has been less marked, there have been a range of factors at play, including local leadership and political buy in for the value of culture and its contribution to other policy agendas, for example on health in Liverpool and the local economy in Derry/Londonderry.

The report has a series of further case studies of good practice from regions all across the UK, including:

  • Partnerships have played a key role, particularly with the education sector, for example in Hull and Manchester
  • The incorporation of culture into the tourism economy has helped in areas like Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire
  • Some cultural organisations, like Bury Museum have been creative at revenue raising through international tours

The Committee supports the drive for the UK to be a world leader on digitisation of cultural heritage and national collections, and supports cultural organisations having digital independence. There is also a need for greater national co-ordination on the digitalisation agenda, where digital infrastructure is shareable and scale-able, to ensure that smaller entities are included.

Chair's comment

Damian Collins MP, 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 authority’s declines.

We welcome the recent further shift in Arts Council funding to provide more resources for regional arts organisation but there should be greater incentives in place to encourage more private and corporate support for culture.

Our major national cultural institutions are doing more than ever to develop partnerships outside of London, to make the arts and heritage more accessible. We need to build on this, and make successful cultural partnerships a condition of the large grant funding that our large museums and galleries receive."

Further information

Image: The Mac Belfast

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