B&NES at bottom of national arts and culture spending league

According to a news story in The Stage, B&NES council spends less than 1p per person every week on arts, museums and heritage, a sum which puts it at firmly at the bottom of the arts spending league.

It shares a place with seven other councils – North Somerset,  Isles of Scilly,  Forest of Dean,  Wokingham,  Huntingdonshire, Wigan and Selby.

Statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Office for National Statistics show that the current average spend on culture per resident each week in England is 16p.

Three councils spend more than 50p on culture for each resident – Exeter, Middlesbrough and the City of London.

The findings form part of research co-commissioned by the National Campaign for the Arts, industry bodies UK Theatre and the Museums Association, actors’ union Equity and The Stage.

It reveals the steady decline of local council culture investment over the past few years. In 2010/11, the average budgeted cultural spend was 20p. This figure dropped to 18p in 2011/12 and then 16p in 2013/14.

A survey of 970 UK residents, carried out by Ipsos Mori as part of the research, shows that more than 75% of people want councils to provide some financial support for the arts. Of those surveyed, 63% say councils should be investing at least 50p for each resident each week. More than 20% say they want £1 to £5 invested.

Actor and director Samuel West, chair of the National Campaign for the Arts,  is launching the 50p for Culture campaign this week.

He said he expected those councils spending an average of less than 1p per resident per week to defend their low investment level by claiming they do not have an arts venue in their constituency.

“We [the NCA] would say that you could always build one or fund some dance classes, or get people painting or bring in a touring exhibition or theatre company rather than saying ‘If you live here we don’t really do that’,” said West.

Read more at The Stage.

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