The letter sent to RFO's today at 17.30
It’s clear that we’re living in difficult times and that there are real challenges ahead. Throughout this month the Arts Council is holding briefing sessions to discuss the developing context and timeline that will take us through the spending review to funding decisions for 2011 and beyond.
We want to be open with you as to what we know about the tough choices we need to face together. We also want to be clear that in this rapidly changing environment there are still things we don’t know. These sessions will be invaluable in both sharing our direction of travel, and in hearing feedback from you that further shapes our thinking.
In June, along with all DCMS funded bodies, we received a letter from Jeremy Hunt asking us to model reductions of 25- 30% over four years to our funding programme. This shows just how tough this spending review will be, but these figures are not set in stone. The Arts Council is arguing to minimise the cuts – and we will argue that any cut needs to be managed intelligently, and in a way that protects the achievements of the last 15 years. In particular we need to be sure that whatever cuts we do get do not all take place in the first year of a four-year cycle. This would be doubly damaging.
Many of you have talked to us about your enthusiasm for speaking with one voice, using the same key messages and themes to make sure we are heard. To help you with this we have prepared a toolkit, that we will be publishing shortly, to enable you to make the case.
There is much detail still to be decided, but we need to be clear that cuts of up to 30% would mean significant change. We would no longer be able to fund many organisations in the way we have been to date.
We want to give organisations at least 12 months’ notice of significant changes to their funding future so we will run the next funding process in two stages: investment decisions for 2011/12 (year one) will be separated from years 12/13-14/15.
Given the economic climate, and the fact we have been asked to model a reduction of up to 30% over four years, we are now asking you to model prudently for a minimum of a 10% reduction in your funding for 11/12. This figure is not final, but we suggest it is a reasonable figure for you to address at this point.
This allows us all to use 2011/12 as a year of transition that builds towards a new approach to the arts landscape, shaped by our ambitions for the arts. The Arts Council is developing Achieving great art for everyone, a 10-year strategic framework for the arts, setting out clearly what we want to achieve over the next 10 years. At the briefing sessions we will report back on responses to the consultation. It’s important that in this time of short-term cuts we keep our eye on the big picture, so that whatever cuts we do have to make now, art can still thrive over the next 10 years.
Following publication of Achieving great art for everyone, the framework will be translated into the next Arts Council plan and priorities. Our funding decisions for 2012/13 to 2014/15, post October settlement, will be firmly set within these priorities, the funding context, and aligned to the long-term goals.
At the briefing sessions we will also discuss the three new funding programmes that we are considering phasing in over time. These programmes will emphasise the nature of our relationship with funded organisations in order to focus our investment on what we want to achieve and allow us to respond quickly to new ideas and ways of working.
I hope as many of you as possible will be able to come along to a session to hear more about what I’ve set out here, and to take the opportunity to discuss your questions with us and other funded bodies. We will put the presentation from the session on our website later this month.
Arts Council England