Arts Council England announced the results of the National Portfolio funding round this morning which details an investment in arts and culture of around £1 billion from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2018.
For detailed coverage and comment see The Guardian and use the Twitter hashtags #NPO and #acefunding.
While Bristol sees an increase in ACE funding of over £750,000 with success for 20 of the city’s organisations – details at the Bristol Culture website here – B&NES is now reduced to just one National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funded organisation, Creativity Works.
The only other current NPO organisation in B&NES, Bath Festivals, is not to be awarded funds for 2015-18. Several other non-NPO B&NES based arts organisations were unsuccessful with their applications.
For details of ACE funding decisions for arts organisations in the South West see here.
Even before this funding round, B&NES languished at the bottom of a league for the number of NPO organisations in comparable cities and local authorities.
In making their decisions about individual organisations, ACE considers the context in which such organisations operate and places much store by ‘strong partnership working with the Local Authority and Higher Education partners, where joint planning and investment has seen culture flourish and be recognised as a driving force in building the community, both economically and socially.’
That, unfortunately, has very much not been the case in B&NES.
Unlike Bristol, which has made a clear, articulate and effective case for the value of culture and creativity and worked in partnership with ACE, B&NES adopted its Arts Development Business Plan 14-15 (bnes_arts_development_business_plan_2014-15) in the teeth of strong criticism from both ACE and the arts and cultural sector.
Its implementation has led to significant and highly damaging cuts in funding to B&NES arts groups, with commissions being awarded to organisations outside the area, much to the detriment of the local cultural infrastructure and partnerships.
In a statement made by Cultural Forum Co-Chair David Metcalfe to a full meeting of B&NES Council on Thursday 12 September 2013 , he told councilors that the Arts Development Business Plan was “narrowly focused and not in the best interests of the arts sector as a whole” and warned that “if there are major cuts to key arts organisations resulting from this new approach, there is a real risk that the arts sector in B&NES will lose major funding from the Arts Council England”.
The full statement can be read here.