It’s been a tense morning for arts organisations across London. The results of the much-anticipated shake-up of funding were announced by Arts Council England (ACE), following cuts imposed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
ACE, which previously funded 850 arts groups across the UK, has torn up its operation and started again, introducing a new “national portfolio”. A whopping 1,333 British organisations applied for funding under the new system with 695 actually receiving money, down from 850 under the old system. There were winners too though, with 110 new organisations.
In London, as expected, the big guns had their funding kept at a standstill rather than cut massively, although that still represents a cut in real terms (all figures here in real, not cash terms). The big four London orchestras – London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia – have to swallow an 11% cut; same for the English National Opera but the Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and National Theatre took a 15% cut.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. While the Southbank Centre took a 15% cut, the Barbican Centre received a 108% increase in funding, although that’s up to only £0.5million compared to Southbank Centre’s £20million (the Barbican is chiefly funded by the Corporation of the City of London).
There was a mixed picture across other arts venues. Artsdepot in Finchley, which has struggled with the loss of local government funding, will be relieved at a standstill 11% cut and Camden Arts Centre gets a 15% boost, but the excellent Rich Mix in East London loses 59% of funding. The Roundhouse and Wigmore Hall took 11 and 15% cuts respectively.
The most dramatic story in the visual art world was the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which saw its funding slashed by 42%, from £1.42m a year in 2010/2011 to £900,000 in 2011/12, an act bizarrely described as a “vote of confidence” by ACE. The Serpentine Gallery received a 19.5% uplift while the thriving Whitechapel Gallery collected a cool extra £350,000 to take it up to £1.5m.
The big winner in theatre land was the Young Vic which romped home with an extra £273,500, while the Arcola in Dalston was awarded an 82% increase (up to £300,000). But the Donmar Warehouse took an 11% cut and the Almeida Theatre will be disappointed with 39% less.
Finally, there was joy unconfined for groups awarded funding for the first time. London winners included: Streetwise Opera (£100,000); newish ensemble, the Aurora Orchestra (£60,000); baroque music group, the English Concert (£78,000); and poetry organisation, Poet In The City (£70,000).
“This is about a resilient future for the arts in England,” said Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of ACE, in a statement. “We have taken the brave path of strategic choices… which has meant some painful decisions, and it is with great regret that we have had to cease funding some good organisations.”
Correction: this article originally stated that the Serpentine Gallery's funding was cut by 15% when it actually received a boost of 19.5%.