Arts organisations and museums face further funding cuts of £11.6m

Cuts to Arts Council England budget will be passed straight on to the 696 bodies it funds

Arts organisations, museums and libraries in England need to brace themselves for further public funding cuts of £11.6m after the government wrote to Arts Council England outlining how last week's Autumn Statement will effect it.

ACE's chief executive Alan Davey said he had been told that cuts to the DCMS budget would be passed on, equating to a 1% cut in 2013/14 of £3.9m and a 2% cut of £7.7m in 2014/15.

He added: "The government's intention seems to have been that Whitehall departments absorb any cuts themselves from efficiencies but since the DCMS has already given itself a 50 per cent administration cut – which was also applied to the Arts Council and other NDPBs – the department's latest cuts have been passed straight on to the bodies it funds."

Because ACE believes it can not cut administration costs any further, that effectively means ACE will have to pass the cuts on to the 696 bodies it funds in its National Portfolio, organisations from local galleries, regional theatres and big beasts such as the Royal Opera House.

It comes after the 30% cut applied to ACE in 2010 – limited to 15% for frontline arts organisations – and for many it comes in addition to local authority cuts, some of which have happened, some of which are planned. Newcastle city council is planning to cut arts organisations by 100%, by axing its entire £2.5m culture budget.

The uncertainty does not stop there. The chancellor George Osborne also announced a spending review that will cover the same spending period and beyond with many anticipating further cuts.

Davey said: "We must now look closely at the figures and decide how we will pass these cuts on. Some organisations are also having to deal with local authority cuts and so the situation is extremely challenging."

A spokeswoman for the Arts Council said the 50% administrative cut it had already made meant there was nowhere else to go apart from passing it on to arts organisations. The decisions would be made "as quickly as we possibly can," she added.

Letters have also been sent to organisations such as the British Museum, the British Library, English Heritage, the V&A and the National Gallery imposing a cut of 1% then 2%.

In a DCMS blog the culture secretary Maria Miller writes: "We hope that by passing these cuts on in as swift a fashion as possible, we are able to maximise the time our sectors have to prepare for the tough decisions they will face in making the savings."


Mark Brown, arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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