Relocation dilemma for NPOs as Arts Council reports record grant demand

01 Jul 2022

Stick or twist? London-based cultural organisations confronted with tough choice to move elsewhere in England or to stay put in capital, with no guarantee of funding success in either scenario.  

How might culture engineer levelling up? 

Light installation
25 Jan 2022

DCMS is calling for evidence for its latest inquiry on the levelling up agenda. Jason Jones-Hall has been analysing initial data from place-based funding streams and shares his findings. 

Not British, not welcome

Two actors perform on stage, smiling taking a selfie
11 Jan 2022

While we were distracted by news of politicians partying during lockdown, last month a Bill was passed that changes rights to UK citizenship. Amanda Parker examines how it threatens all our creative lives.

Diverse-led organisations fared worst in cultural recovery support

Performance of the Indonesian cultural dance Pakarena
30 Jun 2022

Arts organisations led by Black, Asian or other ethnically diverse groups were least successful in obtaining financial support from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, according to ACE’s new diversity data report. 

Make music compulsory in schools, says refreshed plan

30 Jun 2022

The updated national plan for music education offers a renewed focus on schools but falls short of addressing all concerns raised over the last decade.

Government to invest over £100m in music education

27 Jun 2022

DCMS, the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care have jointly announced new music and sport initiatives to support children’s development. 

More than £100m will be used to increase opportunities across the country for children to study music and learn instruments.

Capital funding worth £25m will be given to schools to purchase an estimated 200,000 new musical instruments, including adapted instruments for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Schools will also be asked to offer at least one hour of music teaching a week in the curriculum for key stages 1-3 as part of the launch of a new National Plan for Music Education, with £79 million made available every year until 2025 for the Music Hubs programme.

The plan also includes providing teachers and young people with guidance on how to progress a career in music.

“Music can transform lives – so it is vital that music education does not become the preserve of a privileged few and is available to everyone, regardless of their background,” said Chief Executive of UK Music Jamie Njoku-Goodwin.

“Continued investment in music education is vital if we want to unlock the huge creative potential of young people and level up opportunities across the country.”

Additional initiatives in the National Plan for Music Education include steps to further develop instrument and music teaching, a pilot to improve music progression in disadvantaged areas and the roll-out of an inclusion strategy in every music hub area.

Audiences want arts organisations to promote ‘radical’ climate action

27 Jun 2022

A new study shows that 77% of audience members think cultural organisations have a responsibility to influence society to make radical change in tacking the climate emergency.

In May, Act Green - a research project run jointly by Indigo and pointOne - polled 11,682 audience members via 58 cultural organisations.

Their survey found that 80% of cultural audiences are worried about the impact of the climate crisis, 10% higher than a recent ONS survey of the overall population.

It also found that 94% of respondents have made lifestyle changes, compared to 79% of the general public.

While more than three-quarters of respondents said cultural organisations have a responsibility to exert influence, only 17% think that organisations currently place “great importance” on playing an active role in tackling climate change. Fifty-seven percent said they place “some importance” on it.

More than 90% of audiences expect organisations to prioritise energy efficiency in their buildings, avoid single use plastics and source recycled material for building sets. Nearly two thirds said they would be open to suggestions of more sustainable food choices at venues.

More than half said they would be “quite likely” to support fundraising to improve ongoing biodiversity of the venue and 65% would consider using public transport instead of driving to the venue in exchange for a reduced ticket price.

“It is really encouraging to see the level of importance that cultural audiences are placing on the climate emergency,” said Katy Raines, CEO of Indigo.

“The responses from younger audiences in particular offer a real opportunity for cultural organisations to build relationships with a new generation of theatre goers who are passionate about climate activism. 

“I hope this signals the beginning of a new wave of supporters, advocates and volunteers to support organisations to meet sustainability goals.”

Low uptake of live events insurance scheme by festivals

image of Green Man festival
23 Jun 2022

Less than a quarter of the government's ringfenced insurance funding has been paid out, with music festivals finding the scheme not fit for purpose.

Equity survey shows inflation is a 'workforce crisis'

21 Jun 2022

The members' survey analysis also reveals Black people and the young are disproportionately leaving the sector after the pandemic.

Opera UK to discuss sustainability, diversity and advocacy

21 Jun 2022

Opera UK has announced a series of online events to be held in the first week of July that will facilitate discussion around the future of opera in the country.

The sessions will be focused on three pressing issues: environmental sustainability, greater diversification in leadership and advocacy for opera, and will feature at least 14 expert speakers.

Contributors who have so far signed up include directors of leading companies, performers and those working on the ground in positions including technical production and stage direction.

Annilese Miskimmon, Artistic Director at English National Opera, Elizabeth Llwellyn, soprano and a trustee of Into Opera and Mark Pemberton, Chief Executive at the Association of British Orchestras, are all scheduled to participate. 

All events will be participatory, allowing attendees to join the discussions and ask questions. 

“Innovation and change is vital to ensure that our sector remains relevant, effectively engages with communities, and benefits our audiences,” said Genevieve Raghu, Artistic Director of Into Opera and one of Opera UK’s Founding Directors. 

“We hope these events will help to connect individuals and companies across the opera sector and instigate even more conversations, positive changes and, through increased collaboration of our members, we hope to see a strengthening of the resilience of the opera sector.”

The discussions will also serve as a platform to launch a new mapping exercise designed to help establish a detailed picture of the national opera industry. 

Government schedules ACE review for 2023

Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley
15 Jun 2022

Arts Council England chief pledges to make strong case to government when organisation is reviewed next year.

Welsh Government sets culture and heritage anti-racism targets

Outside of the National Museum Wales
14 Jun 2022

Publicly funded organisations in Wales will be required to report diversity figures, lift barriers to cultural participation and mandate anti-racism training over the next two years.

Government fund to rescue cultural buildings reopens

13 Jun 2022

The second round of the government’s Community Ownership Fund opened on Saturday (11 June).

The £150m fund is designed to help community groups bid for ownership of cultural buildings, namely historic buildings, sports clubs and music venues, to protect their long-term future.

The first round supported 39 projects to purchase assets that were at risk of closure, sale, neglect, damage, or were found to not be operating in a sustainable way.

Eligibility criteria has been widened to attract more applications. A requirement that the cultural asset must have had a community use in the last five years has been removed, and the minimum leasehold on the premises has been reduced from 25 years to 15 years.

Minister for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution Neil O’Brien MP said the fund will help to “spread opportunity, boost local pride and level up every corner of the UK”.

Groups interested in applying are being invited to submit an expression of interest on the government website.

Arts organisation takes part in four-day week trial

07 Jun 2022

Not-for-profit arts organisation 64 Million Artists is among 70 British companies participating in a six-month pilot to offer employees a four-day working week with no loss of pay.

More than 3,300 workers are taking part in the scheme, which is the world’s biggest four-day week trial to date. Staff at participating organisations pledge to maintain 100% productivity in return for working 80% of the hours while retaining 100% of their salaries.

Based in London, Brighton and Stroud, 64 Million Artists offers training and development programmes, collaborates with academic institutions on arts research and policy, and issues creativity challenges to inspire artists and promote positive change.

The trial, which launched this week, is organised by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the thinktank Autonomy and the 4 Day Week Campaign. 

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford alongside Boston College, USA will work with participating organisations to monitor company productivity and staff wellbeing and to measure the trial’s impact on gender equality and the environment. 

“As we emerge from the pandemic, more and more companies are recognising that the new frontier for competition is quality of life, and that reduced-hour, output-focused working is the vehicle to give them a competitive edge,” Chief Executive of 4 Day Week Global said.

Other companies participating in the trial span the education, consultancy, housing, skincare, food and beverage, marketing and architecture and construction sectors. 


Union calls for end to ‘dangerous assault’ on arts degrees

06 Jun 2022

The Government’s “reductive agenda” is encouraging universities to launch a “dangerous assault” on arts and humanities subjects, University and College Union (UCU) General Secretary Jo Grady has said.

In a letter addressed to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Grady called for the planned 50% reduction in funding for creative degrees to be stopped.

Assaults on “low value” courses and plans to restrict access to courses that do not meet “arbitrary graduate outcomes data” must also end, she added.

The letter follows recent losses of creative degrees at De Montfort University, Roehampton University and Wolverhampton University.

“If [these] proposals are repeated, as our union fears they may be, the future of the arts and humanities could be under grave threat, resulting in disaster in vital areas including the public sector and the creative industries, as well as impoverishing our culture,” the letter reads.

UK’s Cultural Protection Fund yet to support Ukraine

06 Jun 2022

The UK’s Cultural Protection Fund is yet to designate funding to Ukraine to support widespread damage to heritage sites caused by Russia’s invasion

The fund, administered by the British Council and backed by the Foreign Office, has delivered £30m since its inception in 2016 to protect cultural heritage at risk, namely across the Middle East and North and East Africa.

A British Council spokesperson told The Art Newspaper Ukraine was not automatically eligible for the fund, but an exception was made to allow allocation of £60,000 in March, which did not materialise.

In the last financial year, the £2.4m earmarked for grants had been largely spent before Russia’s invasion began in late February. This year’s fund is now open for expressions of interest, but the Ukraine is not listed as one of the fund’s targeted countries on the British Council’s website.

The Cultural Protection Fund did channel £80,000 through a Dutch non-governmental organisation in March, which is coordinating assistance for Ukraine.

The Prince Claus Fund shipped protection materials for works of art and buildings to Ukraine via Poland in March. A second consignment is now being organised.

The support package also received funding from foundations in the USA and Germany.

A radical re-think of R&D policy

26 May 2022

How do art and artists contribute to innovation? Hasan Bakhshi and David Maggs argue that the typical ways of inquiring into the world are in desperate need of revitalisation.

Creative industries policy centre gets five-year funding boost

25 May 2022

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has announced that it will continue to fund the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) for a further five years and is seeking a new host organisation.  

Since its inception in 2018 PEC, which comprises a consortium of universities from across the UK, has been hosted by innovation foundation Nesta, which led on its establishment.

The AHRC has issued a call for expressions of interest from research organisations who are interested in hosting the PEC and its core team from June 2023 for a further five-year period.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair at Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “The Centre balances robust academic research with agile, reactive policy and industry priorities. 

"[This] announcement is good news for the sector and we very much look forward to finding the right host organisation to work with for the exciting next stage of development and reinforce the PEC’s position as a vital research and innovation infrastructure for the creative industries."

High priority areas yet to receive levelling up funding

Chesterfield's Stephenson Memorial Hall is being renovated after a successful Levelling Up Fund application
24 May 2022

Analysis finds 19 local authority areas deemed to be high priority for investment by both government and Arts Council England are yet to receive a slice of £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund.

Dorries: abolition of ACE 'not on government agenda'

19 May 2022

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tells MPs that while the system of distributing arts funding is "not perfect", there are no plans to abolish Arts Council England.


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