Arts Council Funding Announcements: Our View

By Nick Hunt, Creative Director: Mid Pennine Arts

There have been reports in the local press about the arts funding decisions. The reports are factually accurate, but give a quite distorted view of the mood of the moment amongst arts organisations. All our colleagues in Pennine Lancashire arts companies have been expecting cuts, and planning for them. We know that we will have to take our share of the coming austerity. The Arts Council had advised us to plan for 10% less funding. This is what we were expecting for next year. So it may sound strange to say so, but this week’s news is good news!

The Arts Council is taking a deep cut, but has managed to insulate most of the organisations it regularly supports from the full effect of that. They have also given us comfort by confirming funding for 2011/12 very quickly, at an early stage, so we have a secure year and a half, in which to make plans for a tougher time ahead. On both these counts they have done well by their client companies, and we are grateful to them.

The reports also make it sound like Mid Pennine Arts is the big loser here. Again that gives a false impression. The cut is a standard 6.9% across all client companies. So MPA takes the biggest hit simply because we are the biggest client in Pennine Lancashire. We will continue to receive the largest investment, and in the current climate we are very grateful for that. It represents £175k of inward investment into the economy of Pennine Lancashire, and we will work harder than ever to multiply its value to our local communities.

There are plenty of aspects of the government cuts to be very gloomy about, including today’s news about the Housing Market Renewal programme being stopped dead in its tracks. MPA has had the chance to do some terrific work with Elevate/ Regenerate in HMR areas, and we know what a blow this is for those neighbourhoods.

But the arts funding news means that some brilliant local companies can stop the sleepless nights for a while, and can plan ahead to continue making a big contribution to the lives of our local communities. The glass is at least half full!

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