News Column

Comment: Letters and emails: Arts funding outside London

June 22, 2014

Will Straw and Nigel Warner

Peter Bazalgette is right to point out the devastating effect local government cuts have had on regional arts organisations ("Arts in crisis - 'blame lies with council cuts'", News, last week). Poorer areas have faced larger cuts, exacerbating Britain's cultural divide. Further cuts are likely in the next parliament, no matter who wins the election. This means organisations such as the Arts Council, BBC and National Lottery have an obligation to support diversity across Britain. Our recent report for the IPPR, March of the Modern Makers, found Londoners receive three times more arts funding than everyone else.

Absolute equity would be unwise given the national assets based in London for historic reasons. But the fact the Arts Council has begun to shift funding from London shows the current settlement is not rational. Grant-making bodies must develop evidence on the right balance of funding between London and the regions, and how they will work towards it. Increasing regional funding will also help diversify the creative industries. The magnet of London for fashion, music, film, theatre and television, combined with a history in the industry of poorly paid internships and informal recruitment, is a barrier to a creative career for young people away from the capital and from less well-off backgrounds. Supporting institutions elsewhere can help open these sectors by allowing talented young people of limited means to get their break closer to home.

Will Straw and Nigel Warner

Institute for Public Policy Research

London WC2

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Source: Observer (UK)

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