Bethany Rex and Peter Campbell analyse changes in local authority funding of culture over the last decade and its effect on rising levels of austerity.
Over the last decade, many arts and cultural organisations have faced increasingly difficult financial circumstances (Mansfield, 2014; Harvey, 2016; Rimmer, 2020; Terwey, 2017). In England local authorities have been subject to significant cuts in this period of “austerity”. Yet discussion of the specificities of these circumstances has had a tendency to be alarmist, speculative, predictive, or light on evidence (e.g. Naidoo, 2015; Starkey, 2015).
As such, ten years after the onset of austerity policies there has been little analysis exploring the cuts across local authorities. Average figures for expenditure cuts are commonly quoted which give the impression that austerity has hit all areas equally, producing equivalent reductions in spending on cultural provision. As well as masking geographic specificity, much analysis considers only broad categories of “cultural” spending, which may be treated as representing “the arts”, despite covering a much wider remit.
Commentators have also been quick to explain spending patterns as the consequence of the purposive action of individuals seeking to “protect” or disregard cultural services (Harvey, 2016; Mansfield, 2014). Whilst our methods do not allow us to discount this as a potential explanation, we identify a number of additional factors with a bearing on spending decisions... Keep reading on Taylor & Francis Online.