Council arts funding set to fall by £26m

AD:UK predicts 13% drop in 2017

Council funding for the arts will fall by another £26 million over the next year

That’s the prediction by industry body Arts Development UK, (AD:UK) which represents many people working in local government arts.

AD:UK’s latest annual survey shows that local authority arts funding in England and Wales will fall to £174 million in 2016/17  - a 13% drop since  2015/16.

This is on top of a £56 million fall in spending on local government arts  spending in England since 2009, according to Arts Council England figures.

The survey shows that the decline is much steeper in England (a 14% drop) than in Wales (5%).

Half of local authorities reported they had already made cuts to their arts budgets this year, while a quarter said their arts funding was at a standstill.

However, spending on building works and arts infrastructure rose this year to an average of £95,292 per authority.

The survey also estimates that councils currently employ around 1,800 people in arts services, just  This is just a third of the 5,600 staff recorded in 2008/9.

However most local authorities responding to the survey still agreed that the arts contributed to better public service outcomes with 89% saying the arts supported the local economy, while 82% said they contributed to health and well-being, 75% said they helped build ”stronger and safer communities”, and 68% said they supported education and child services.

Looking to the future, almost half of the survey respondents expected further funding cuts. In addition, 9% thought their arts services would be contracted out, while 11% said they were under threat of closure.

ADUK chair Jane Wilson said the survey showed the “continued and gradual erosion of funding for the arts”.

But she also said the report showed evidence “that arts activity continues to be funded from other budgets, due to its recognised ability to deliver outcomes across a range of services”.

Wilson added: “It is notable that the results seem to be a reflection of the fact that local authorities are being cautious, waiting to see if the impact of the Autumn Statement will be as devastating as rumours are suggesting it will be.”

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