Worcestershire Arts Partnership Blog

Monday, 28 April 2014

Policy for the Lottery, the Arts & Community in England

News & notice board1. The PLACE Report: Policy for the Lottery, the Arts & Community in EnglandThe distribution of Lottery funding for the arts in England is a closed system, operating for the benefit of a small number of arts organisations but to the detriment of wider society and the economy, according to a new report by Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon, David Powell and Steve Trow who recently revealed England’s regional arts funding imbalance. PLACE draws a clear distinction between the purposes of tax-derived funding (Arts Council England’s grant-in-aid) and National Lottery revenue distributed by ACE (the Arts Lottery). It takes as read the critical importance of the Arts Council’s role in maintaining the nation’s core, high-quality cultural infrastructure through grant-in-aid, but questions fundamentally the Arts Council’s stewardship of the National Lottery funds, which are provided for different purposes and for far wider public benefit than its Treasury grant.

Nearly 80% of Arts Council England’s (ACE) Lottery funding has gone to less than 20% of local authority areas since the National Lottery was launched, according to a new report by the authors of the RoCC report, which revealed the extent of England’s regional arts funding disparity. The PLACE report – on Policy for the Lottery, the Arts and Community in England – states that directions issued to Lottery distributors by the Secretary of State to prioritise disadvantaged communities have been “followed by the Lottery distributors in England for Sport, Heritage, and voluntary and community action. At best, Arts Council England appears to have accorded the Directions no priority and at worst has ignored them, placing at serious risk of failure the local infrastructure of facilities, organisations and programmes that are the bedrock of our national cultural life.” It concludes that “gross imbalances” in the distribution of arts Lottery funding are hindering efforts to realise the “wider potential that the arts and culture have within society and the economy”, as well as compounding geographic inequalities in grant-in-aid arts funding across England.

The Arts Lottery has disproportionately benefited the most prosperous and ‘arts engaged’ communities in England, which are often also those contributing least to the Lottery. Some of the least arts-engaged and poorest communities, meanwhile, who are contributing most heavily to the ‘arts good cause’, receive the least return.

  • The 33 English local authorities where people are least engaged with the arts (10% of the total and with a combined population of 6 million) have received £288 million Arts Lottery funds since 1995 or £48 per head of population.
  • The 33 areas (population 4.8 million) with the highest levels of arts usage have received £1.327 billion across the same period – over £1 billion more – and at £275 per head of population.
  • The local authority area with the highest net return to its Lottery players is the City of Westminster, whose population has contributed £14.5 million to the Arts Lottery since 1995, while it has received £408 million – a surplus of £393.5 million.
  • The local authority area with the poorest return is County Durham, where its Lottery players have contributed £34 million since 1995, while it has received £12 million – a net deficit (in effect a contribution to the surpluses of others) of £22 million.
  • Taking into account differences in the playing frequency of households and the capital city’s extended cultural catchment, London, the South East & East have a surplus from the Arts Lottery to date of £416 million funded by the net contributions of the North (£216 million), the Midlands (£140 million) and the South West (£60 million).

Of the 10% of local authority areas where engagement with the arts is, according to DCMS figures, at its highest, three-quarters are in the “extended cultural catchment” of London. Lottery funding to these areas has totalled more than £1.3bn since the launch of the National Lottery in 1995 – an estimated £1bn more than has been generated for the arts Lottery fund through ticket sales in these areas. Arts Lottery funding to five London organisations alone – the Royal Opera House, the Royal National Theatre, English National Opera, Sadler’s Wells and the South Bank Centre – has amounted to £315m. By contrast, the 10% of local authorities where arts engagement is lowest have received a total of just £288m during the same period – an estimated £107m less than the arts Lottery revenues generated from ticket sales in those areas. The local authority area with the poorest net return to Lottery players is County Durham, where an estimated £34m has been contributed to the arts by Lottery players since 1995, during which time the area has received only £12m for arts activity. The area with the highest net return is the City of Westminster, whose population has contributed an estimated £14.5m while its arts organisations have received £408m.

To begin to correct these manifest imbalances, the PLACE Report makes a simple illustrative proposition of a tripartite framework for the Arts Lottery.

  • Respecting the Directions, it would operate through three programmes focused differentially on the social priority of engagement with areas of disadvantage, the economic priority of dispersed cultural production, and the artistic priority of support for artists’ practice across all disciplines.
  • Decision making would be devolved to appropriate structures operating at regional or multi-authority level, with weighted allocations that recognised advantage and disadvantage in terms of geographical, economic and social factors.

This would see 40% of Lottery funds allocated for developing the arts at local level to promote individual and community wellbeing; a further 40% for wider economic regeneration at regional level to promote creative cultural production; and the final 20% available to individual artists and arts-led projects to encourage new talent, innovation and excellence in work locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

The report is available at: http://www.theplacereport.co.uk/downloads.php
(Source: Place Report & Arts Professional)

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