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Category Archives: Funding
I know this is a post from America, but it speaks to me and all our friends and colleagues here in the UK.
Our Creative Director, Nick Hunt, was invited to write the ‘Last Word’ column for the latest edition of Arts Professional (find it here).
Excitement mounts chez nous as we contemplate a June break, and a first visit to Musiques Metisses, the long-running boutique festival that celebrates the French bonds to West Africa and other global music hotspots. We do it on our own doorstep, too. When we drove into Manchester last week to see the stupendous Portuguese fado singer Mariza, we were being music tourists. Feargal Sharkey is exactly right: “Music provides a huge boost to UK tourism, it drives growth, it sustains thousands of jobs across all regions”. Except it’s not just music, it’s our vibrant contemporary arts. It’s culture that drives tourism in this rainy island. And it is a powerhouse for the economy. Even the Prime Minister knows it.
Last summer, David Cameron gave a keynote speech on tourism, driving home its vital importance to the UK economy and ‘the recovery’. His choice of venue told you everything that he knows but may not acknowledge… Not a museum, a resort or a stately home, but the Serpentine Gallery’s temporary pavilion, the latest in a crazily ambitious series of commissions from leading-edge architects which has been a triumph of vision and ambition – and of cultural tourism. David Cameron seems somehow to grasp this, but the tragedy is that his government does not walk the walk.
So now we plunge into the perfect storm of cuts – arts councils, local authorities, and, worst of all, the abolition of the regional development agencies and their huge strategic programmes. Few cultural projects will get a sniff of the miniscule Regional Growth Fund that replaces them. As architect David Chipperfield unveils his second temple of modern culture in six weeks, maybe we have enough infrastructure now? Perhaps we can just get along, from here on…Well, no. The cogs of the cultural powerhouse need to keep turning. And some of the first effects of it grinding to a halt are seen in the sad scenario of plummeting numbers of earning opportunities for individual artists. Much of this will be due to the abrupt halt to public investment in regeneration and regional development. And surely this can only be exacerbated by the number of public realm commissioners omitted from the new Arts Council England (ACE) portfolio. If the artists are not being sustained now, we will all feel the effects later on.
Meanwhile, the ACE/Turning Point report suggests that visual arts organisations need to strengthen their business models and enhance their ‘sustainability’. But is this reasonable, when so often the real profit and loss account is in the world outside? Turner Contemporary, for example, will not ultimately be judged on how much it earns, but on whether it transforms future prospects for Margate. A tall order, but if anyone can do it…
All power, then, to Gulbenkian for an award shortlist with real wow factor – and evidence that outstanding work can spring from the most disadvantaged communities. Why not invest in them all, Gulbenkian? You know it makes sense. And then there is Culture + Conflict. Michaela Crimmin’s initiative and the other case studies leave me awestruck. It is humbling to realise how much tougher things can be, and how, still, art can rise to the challenge. In the week when Ai Weiwei has finally been glimpsed, alive and well, we must be grateful for small mercies.
This week Nick will cross to the Dark Side (Yorkshire) to marvel at the opening of The Hepworth. But why should Wakefield have two world-beaters? At least both Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park are showcasing young Lancashire artists – Halima Cassell and Rebecca Chesney.
David Smith from our Education team comments about the past couple of weeks after the news came in from ACE at the end of March….
What a bad week that was from Wednesday morning with that dreadful news….not an increase in funding, not the same, not even a reduction but no funding from the next round from Arts Council England. All kinds of recriminations and thoughts of conspiracy theories creep like scorpions through my head. The mass of supporting tweets, verbal messages and e-mails as the news filters through remind us of the good will that lies out there somewhere…but on the Friday morning the disappointment was still there, like a nagging groin injury…
…and yet Friday really was another day which came with a breath of fresh air, news of Steph’s success, our Education Co-ordinator – she has her PhD; enough to lift all our spirits…why? …because it is a reminder that this is such a talented team; a team which brought Panopticons and Land, inspirational artwork in Contemporary Heritage and the Valley of Stone, and the Padiham Greenway – all to new audiences in Pennine Lancashire and beyond….
Today, Monday is another day, the start of another week…onwards and upwards…
Wednesday 30 March
Mid Pennine Arts announces today that it has not been successful in its bid for Arts Council portfolio funding for the three-year period from April 2012.
The Pennine Lancashire organisation was bidding for funding from central government alongside 1330 arts companies across the country. The Arts Council announced all results at 10am this morning. Only half the applicants have been successful, as the Arts Council implements a projected 29% cut in its funds. MPA is one of 206 established clients to lose support.
MPA has been responsible for leading major projects like the Panopticons series of new landmarks, which has won national awards and attracted national and international attention to Pennine Lancashire. The Panopticons are featuring on two national TV programmes this spring.
MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt said:
“We are very proud of MPA’s work, a long history of achieving extraordinary creative results while working in some of the UK’s most deprived communities. So of course we are deeply disappointed by the Arts Council decision.
MPA’s funding, however, is secure for the year ahead, and we have some very exciting projects taking shape. In June we launch the second commission in the Contemporary Heritage series at Clitheroe Castle. Projects led by young people – the Project Pride series supported by Heritage Lottery Fund – are just kicking off in three Pennine Lancashire towns. There is much more in store, and while the coming year’s programme unfolds we will also be planning for how we operate in the future.
MPA has been active for 45 years and was here before the Arts Council’s North West operation. It represents a partnership approach to enriching the cultural life of our communities, and that will be ever more vital in these tough times. MPA has navigated major changes in the past, and this news represents a fresh challenge for our exceptional team to rise to.
We are grateful for the past support of the Arts Council, and the stalwart support of Lancashire County Council and all our many project partners.
Today we are also thinking about the bigger picture. Congratulations to the companies who have been successful. There is great news here for some very deserving groups, like our friends at More Music, Burnley Youth Theatre, Spot On, Curious Minds, The Grundy, Art Gene and more. We are delighted for them.
Our thoughts, though, are mainly with the many excellent arts organisations across England who have heard the same bad news. This includes too many of our colleagues and friends across Lancashire, where culture makes a huge contribution to public life, economy and tourism. It is a sad day for the arts.’
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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!