'Emergency action needed': government urged to intervene over local arts cuts

The Stage

20 Sep 2023

by Gemma Nettle

Campaign for the Arts, a charity that works to defend and expand access to arts and culture, called on central government to intervene and warned that cutting funding at local level would “prolong our economic recovery”.

Jack Gamble, director of Campaign for the Arts, said: “Local authorities are the biggest funders of the arts in this country. Thousands of venues, festivals and community programmes count on their support and deliver incredible returns on public investment.”

He added: “We all appreciate the big financial pressures that many councils are under, but cutting away at our cultural life will only deepen our troubles and prolong our economic recovery. If local authorities cannot afford to maintain their vital services, national government needs to step in and support them.”

According to figures from an analysis of local government spending on cultural services by Campaign for the Arts, £3.4 billion was spent in England in 2020/21. This is compared with £6.2 billion in 2009/10 when adjusted for 2020/21 inflation. In 2020/21 the spend per person was £59.90 compared with £118.93 in 2009/10, in real terms.

“In a gruelling cost-of-living crisis, and with inflation pushing up costs for everybody, we need emergency action coupled with long-term thinking,” Gamble said.