UK confirms extra £400m for arts – on top of £1.5bn already granted

UK confirms extra £400m for arts – on top of £1.5bn already granted


norman lebrecht

March 02, 2021

Tweet from the Culture Secretary:


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Gigs!!!!! Anyone would think he knows what he is talking about! Theatre pays more VAT than football, tourists come from all over the world to see our actors thus giving a knock on income to hotels, restaurants etc. etc. we deserve more support.

  • V.Lind says:

    Back in the day, if the tiniest detail of a budget leaked before the actual Budget, it would have to be changed before the speech (some paranoia about some element or other of the market going ballistic and doing something wild).

    Now Ministers are tweeting out whole elements? Back in the day, Dowden’s resignation would have had to be on the PM’s desk by now.

    Maybe the rules have relaxed under Covid rules. The City won’t like it — they’ll wonder why their interests (of which I would venture that the paltry sum for the arts is not one) should get equal heads-ups.

  • miko says:

    Crumbs, from the Department of Pantomime, Propaganda and Paltry after-thought.

  • Mecky Messer says:

    Only open question is: how much is IMG going to get this time?

    Who needs a netflix series about The Godfather when one has The Arts

  • Robert King says:

    Whilst every penny that comes to the Arts in the UK is to be welcomed, £400 million is a small proportion of what UK music alone annually brings into the UK economy (£5.2 billion). This new funding is for the entire Arts economy, which is vastly larger. Starting up the Arts, which have been at an almost total standstill for a year now, can’t be done overnight with a “re-fire button”. Lead times for festivals and projects and shows and operas and exhibitions and everything else takes many months. And domestic audiences aren’t going to be back at full strength for some while, let alone re-finding the huge income to UK Arts from tourism, which may still be a year or more away.

    It is also hard to see how that £400 million will trickle down to those who actually create UK Arts. Whilst of course we need the physical halls and theatres, the museums and exhibition spaces, the clubs and bars, and all the myriad other space sand venues, at the centre of that system are the performers: for it is they who create what actually attracts the public. Performers and those equally skilled technicians who support them have been very hard hit for the last twelve months. Most British musicians, actors, dancers and technicians are freelancers – very few have salaries (eg even the players of the London Symphony Orchestra only get paid when there is a day’s work for them). As example, 38% of musicians have not received any government support for a year because their ways of working didn’t fit the government’s funding criteria. The UK has a particularly complex Arts ecosystem.

    Unless conditions for this new £400 million change substantially from the previous two rounds (allocations were done through Arts Council England, so presumably again ACE will be the conduit), it may well again be largely only those venues and organisations who were able to meet ACE criteria in the last handouts who will again receive funding. And by and large, it seems that even those lucky ones spent most of their funding last time on their administrators and salaried staff. The many freelancers who make up the vast bulk of the UK’s Arts sector received no support. Without those freelancers, there isn’t much UK Arts.

    When you add the significant disadvantage that has now been added by Brexit, which has made formerly profitable European touring now all but impossible – profits from European touring subsidised a serious amount of loss-making UK activity – UK performers are now even more disadvantaged.

    Whilst £400 million may sound a lot, that is the total allocated to try to restart the *entire* UK arts economy. In 2018, UK music alone (ie not including all the other Arts, just music) did this for the UK economy:
    – contributed £5.2 billion;
    – created employment for 190,000 people;
    – generated export revenue of £2.7 billion;
    – contributed £4.5 billion spend from incoming tourism;
    – brought in 888,000 overseas visitors to UK shows and festivals;

    In that context, £400 million might not do as much as the headlines are suggesting. And, whilst welcome, it is considerably less than has been seen apposite to support the Arts in all other major European countries.

    • Miko says:

      Which, Mr King, is a longer way of saying “Crumbs, from the Department of Pantomime, Propaganda and Paltry after-thought”.

  • The London concert music scene,in common with other art forms,will be difficult to revive unless transport costs (both private and public) are brought back under control.To say nothing of the fear many people now have of of late night train travel.