Winners and losers digest arts funding shake-up

aa-Apr7-ArtsHalfMoon3.jpgIn a major funding shake-up, creative organisations discovered their fate as Arts Council England announced around £100million of budget cuts.

There were mixed fortunes for the 1,300 theatres, galleries and arts groups that applied for funding, with almost one in four losing all their funds, including 49 in London.

But overall London was a winner with the city securing £510.6million - 49 per cent of funds distributed across the country.

"This is about a resilient future for the arts in England," said Dame Liz Forgan, chairwoman of the Arts Council.

"We have taken the brave path of strategic choices not salami slices, which has meant some painful decisions and it is with great regret that we have had to cease funding some good organisations.

"But we will still be supporting excellence, exceptional talent and successful risk-taking; helping organisations to get their great work out far and wide; backing strong leadership and cultural entrepreneurialism; and encouraging work that really enthuses children and young people - because that's where it all begins."

ACE announced 695 organisations had been successful in their applications for funding from 2012 to 2015, including 110 new groups. But that is down on the 849 organisations funded under the old regime.

Of the groups that previously received funding, more than 300 face a cut in real terms.

Greenwich and Docklands Festivals, the Arcola Theatre, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Greenwich Dance are among the few organisations that will profit.

An anxious three-month wait is also over for the Limehouse-based Half Moon Young People's Theatre. It is one of the lucky organisations that secured Arts Council Funding until March 2015, and will get a 12.7 per cent increase over the three years.

aa-Apr7-ArtsHalfMoon2web.jpgDirector of Half Moon Chris Elwell said: "This is a massive relief, as well as wonderful news. I, like many others, have had nightmares about what a cut of any size would mean for us.

"This endorsement from the Arts Council enables us to continue our innovative programme of professional theatre and community education.

"We look forward to inspiring and engaging young people and artists in Tower Hamlets and beyond for many years."

The news has ensured Half Moon can continue with local projects, including Futureversity - a theatre-making project for disabled people aged 14-25; the summer term of Youth Theatre groups; and a host of other projects in schools.

However, the Southbank Centre, which includes the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery, received £22.1million from the Arts Council in the current year but its funding will fall to £20.1million over the next four years.

The four resident orchestras at Southbank Centre - London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - all face cuts too.

Bethnal Green-based Four Corners - a centre for production and training in film and photography - has also been left disappointed.

The cut in funding will hamper a programme that supports more than 500 artists and trainees each year, including many disadvantaged people in east London.

aa-Apr7-ArtsAcolaTheatreweb.JPGDevelopment director Carla Mitchell said: "We understand that the Arts Council has faced particularly difficult decisions, nevertheless this is astounding.

"Our new centre was funded by over £1million of public money, including the Arts Council, and its support enables people from diverse, disadvantaged backgrounds to access our specialist facilities. Who will support this now?

"Four Corners offers incredible value for money for what it delivers. ACE funding is a modest element of our budget, but we lever 60 per cent of our annual income on the back of it.

"We will continue to work with the Arts Council and seek a renewal of funding at the nearest opportunity."

Chairwoman of Four Corners Helen de Witt said: "This is hugely disappointing and, I fear, counter-productive decision for Four Corners, which could have a significant impact on artists in London accessing skills development, professional support and facilities in film and photographic production, especially the latest digital technologies.

"This, in turn, could have a negative effect on the production and employment prospects for artists, as well as London's arts scene more generally".

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