Shock poll: Almost half of UK wants to cut arts spending

Shock poll: Almost half of UK wants to cut arts spending


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2016

A survey commissioned by the Arts Council (pictured) shows a marked drop in public support for state subsidy for the arts.

The poll of 1,700 people showed 45% wanted cuts to arts and culture spending; 9% favoured an increase.

The cuts vote was highest among the over-65 group – 54% – lowest (26%) among the 18-24s.

This may be the kind of country we have become.

eno arts council picket



  • John Borstlap says:

    It shows that maybe brexit was not too bad for Europe, because the UK seems not want to be European. But: in how far would such negative mood be influenced by disappointment about contemporary art? The poll seems to have been very general and thus, unspecific.

    Some years ago, in the Netherlands there was a wave of populist critique on government spending on ‘the arts’, which appeared to have been mainly against subsidies for contemporary art (and music) production which was considered a mere hobby for the left-wing elite. But in the wave ALL arts happened to be included, so also what is regularly presented by orchestras, opera companies, and museums with the old collections. Irritation about money for new art and music spread into irritation about ANY financial support for the arts, in a general way. And that was gravely worrying: the art field in Holland has shrunk considerably by now, and creative people are seeking refuge in other European countries.

  • Peter says:

    Sadly like much of what the Arts Council do, this question was asked in isolation. Yes, it asked about different art forms, but not about subsidy in general. The question is not whether you want more or less money for the arts, but given a choice between arts, hospitals, roads, defence etc. etc. what priority and how much would you give to the arts. We have for some years been in a low taxation economy, which inevitably has caused cuts across the board, and choices have to be made. People don’t want to pay for everything they theoretically want and whatever government is in power has to make those choices.

    • Anon says:

      Nonsense. The UK has not had “low taxation” for a very long time – the tax take has and is increasing. A low tax economy would be welcomed in any case, allowing people to spend their own money rather than handing it over for other people who think they are wiser to spend on their behalf; possibly the least efficient form of spending.

  • Frederick West says:

    Comes as no surprise at all. The sense of disillusionment with recent events seems to be mirrored in this poll. 45% isn’t a majority, over half were, I assume in favour of keeping the status quo or possibly increasing funding. Depends on how optimistic one is when faced with the results of a somewhat small sample.
    Joe public showed us last week what happens when they feel taken for granted (I voted remain by the way, I now watch and listen to developments since with increasing irritation at the arrogance of the EU parliaments and some of their leaders.).
    These are very interesting and volatile times indeed. I doubt that the Arts Council views are on any current list of priorities for the government at present, if ever they were.

  • Dave says:

    I wonder if the British citizens became too eager at eating from the EU trough? If we are talking about classical music, how many orchestras does London need? A new concert hall so Simon Rattle will feel good about himself? I would suppose that German money helps pay for all this wonderful lifestyle. Everyone wants to live like the Greeks once did, but no one wants to pay for it with their own hard cash.

  • David Boxwell says:

    All that lottery money going to “Arts” is best given back to us, the decent People, to help us pay our bloody awful BBC license fee. Telly should be free, am I right?

    • Cubs Fan says:

      There is no “free”. Somehow, someone always gets paid. American TV is “free”, but you have to put up with countless advertisements to be able to watch god-awful drama. Cable TV is no solution – you pay $100 per month and you have 400 channels of garbage, and still the commercials annoy you. So-called premium channels cost even more, but in the off-hours they’re loaded with informercials and really stupid programming. There are some good things, but the arts are noticeable absent. There’s no channel with live symphonic concerts, opera, ballet. But there are countless sports channels.

  • Jason says:

    How about some additional cuts in the NHS, especially in flu vaccines and cancer, heart disease and diabetes medication. Maybe that could help rid us of some of these over-65s?

  • Mike Schachter says:

    But do we know what the figures were 5, 10, 20 years ago? Could we have expected an even more negative result?

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    So out of a population of some 66 million, just 850 don’t support the arts , gosh, shock, horror.

    I hate polls they can never represent the whole even if the sample is pretty wide. What nonsense.