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Funding body says sector can help Labour government achieve its aim of boosting economic growth if investment is forthcoming.

HM Treasury building in London
Incoming Treasury ministers have stressed there are severe pressures on the public purse

HM Treasury/Creative Commons

Arts Council England (ACE) is seeking immediate discussions with the new government to make the case for increased funding for arts and culture, the public body has said.

Writing in a blog published addressing the sector yesterday, ACE's Chief Executive Darren Henley said the funder wants to work with arts and culture organisations and umbrella bodies in the sector to "make the best possible case".

"We know you are under severe pressure, and we will work hard to make clear to the DCMS, the Treasury, and the government as a whole that we can help deliver their missions - but that our sector needs investment," Henley said.


"We anticipate the new government will conduct a Spending Review sooner rather than later.

"We already have a team in place assembling quantitative and qualitative evidence about the social and economic value of our sector – much of it based on the data you provide us about the work you do and the people you employ."  

Last month an investigation by Arts Professional in partnership with financial benchmarking company MyCake found finances of arts and culture organisations in the UK to in their worst state than at any time in the past five years.

Analysis of a constant cohort of 2,800 organisations across the country that filed accounts for every year since 2018 shows they posted a combined deficit of £117.8m in 2023.

Labour has previously said it would seek to identify more funding for arts but has warned that it would be unable to “simply turn on the tap straight away”.

Pressure on public purse

Henley said ACE has "heard and heeded" warnings from the incoming Treasury ministers that there are severe pressures on the public purse. 

"We must recognise that reality, while explaining why it is that we are asking, not for a handout, but for investment," he said.

"In return we stand ready to make a contribution in service of this country."

"We know the profound impact that cultural investment has on places, in terms of regeneration, employment, and happiness. 

"The impact of the investments we’ve made over the last four years in Priority Places – areas of great potential that had been stifled by historic neglect – offer a case study of what can be achieved when cultural organisations and local leaders come together around the mission of local regeneration and growth.

As part of the lobbying efforts, ACE will be writing to all 650 MPs in England to explain how public funding for culture benefits their constituencies.  

'Seize the moment'

It has asked organisations in the sector to do the same. 

"We should welcome our new MPs, not with an ask, but with an offer: an invitation to see how your work adds value to their constituency, and their voters," Henley said.  

"Your local MP could become a powerful advocate for your work, if they see first-hand the impact it has. 

"We believe our creativity and our cultural excellence are among our country’s greatest assets – so let’s seize this moment to get into action. 

"Together we can work in partnership with the new government in service of our audiences, participants and visitors to raise the nation’s spirit and nurture its soul."

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Good grief - I would have thought ACE would have been doing this for the past 10 years. Before ACE asks for funding it should sort the mess it is in wiith the use of lottery funding, it incompetance and lack of art form policies There has been a 49% increase in the numbers of NPOs since 2015. The subsidy from the DCMS has been supplemented by lottery funds. The use of Lottery funding to shore up National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) started in the Arts Council England funding round of 2012-2015 where £54m was used to shore up the NPOS. This continued in the 2015/2018 funding round where £180m of Lottery funds were used to bolster NPOs. In the latest funding round this figure has risen to £326m. This reduces the funds available to individuals and organisations who do not have NPO status. This reduction of lottery funds needs urgent attention and it is all with in the grasp of the Arts Council The shambles that attended the last funding round with regards to English National Opera, Welsh National Opera and Glyndebourne Touring was lamentable and mismanaged on a heroic scale, elsewhere this would dictate a root and branch review of the organisation. Despite all the fluttering in the dovecote the end result is that in the last funding round for the year 2023/2024 of the music allocation; 49% went to opera, 24% to classical music, 0.40% to folk music, 0.50% to brass bands and 2% to jazz.