Dear Editor, I am writing on behalf of Arts Council England in response to the recent article, City arts heritage struggles to cope as funding slashed (Birmingham Post, December 15).’
The city of Birmingham can take enormous pride in the creativity and successes of artists and arts organisations based here and the cultural offer available to all residents and visitors to the city.
We have worked closely with Birmingham City Council to try and ensure in a time of reduced public subsidy that sufficient investment can be maintained in the arts to ensure the achievement of the Arts Council’s mission of great art for everyone.
Like the city council, we too had to make some very tough decisions regarding funding for arts organisations earlier in the year and know how difficult this can be.
We do recognise how hard the officers and members within the city council have worked to deliver cash standstill in funding for arts organisations for the next two years, enabling organisations to further develop their resilience with less dependence on public subsidy.
Many local authorities across the country have already decided to reduce their funding to the arts and it is to the city council’s credit that they have listened to the strong case for sustained investment in arts organisations and postponed any further cuts for at least two years.
During this period we will to continue to work with the city council and local artists and arts organisations to encourage greater diversity of financial support for the arts particularly from private giving and philanthropy.
This too will be challenging, but given the contribution that the arts and culture make to the economic health of the city, the quality of life of its residents and its attractiveness to investors and tourism, we feel it is an argument well worth making.
We have recently launched Catalyst, a £100m incentive scheme with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which aims to promote private giving and fundraising within arts organisations and will match monies raised over the next three years.
By attracting new money into the arts the goal is that the arts will become more sustainable and resilient. Details about the Catalyst programme are available on the Arts Council website: http://www.artscouncil.org.uk
I am confident that far from being ‘‘in crisis’’ arts organisations in the city are facing the future positively with recent record attendance figures and capital investment in both the mac and the Birmingham Rep.
As they investigate opportunities to ensure their future sustainability Arts Council England in partnership with the local authority will continue to support their endeavours.
Regional director, Arts Council England, West Midlands