A call out for evidence seeks submissions on how planning, tax and fundraising reform could support arts organisations to become more sustainable.

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A new enquiry into the resources available for culture in cities will aim to answer key questions about factors that affect the sustainability and effectiveness of cultural organisations.

The role of taxes, links between culture and health, and the impact of the planning system will be among the issues to be considered, with a view to providing evidence to support more spaces for culture and helping arts organisations become more resilient.


Backed by the UK’s four arts councils, the enquiry will bring together leaders from the cultural, education, design, development, hospitality and technology sectors through a series of roundtable events, expert interviews and meetings of a newly created board. This will be chaired by Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia, and includes Alison Nimmo, CEO of Crown Estates; Cllr Huw Thomas, Cardiff Council Leader; Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England; Seona Reid, Deputy Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund; and Economist Bridget Rosewell.

“Many studies have looked at why culture should be resourced, considering the impact on the lives of individuals and communities,” said a spokesperson for Core Cities, one of the organisations involved in the enquiry.

“The enquiry will seek to advance the debate by taking a close look at how culture can be more effectively resourced across the UK, to multiply the benefits and ensure they can be shared by all in our society.”

Public callout

The board has issued a public callout for evidence across four themes - tax and public finance, property and development, sponsorship and giving, and commercialisation. Key questions include:

  • How can culture contribute to key government priorities, such as integrated communities and tackling loneliness
  • How could cultural organisations be supported to develop sources of commercial revenue
  • Whether cities and cultural organisations could make greater use of loans and peer-to-peer lending
  • How non-traditional sources of giving could be increased, such as local sponsorship or crowdfunding.

An ACE spokesperson said the enquiry had been created in the context of increasing pressure on local authority budgets, meaning resources used to fund culture are being diverted away to pressing economic and social welfare priorities.

They continued: “At a time in which both our city populations are growing larger and more diverse, and the drivers of economic fortunes are evolving rapidly, culture will play a crucial role in helping our cities to draw strength from diversity and grasp the opportunities for success in the years ahead.”

The enquiry will be accepting submissions until 30 May 2018. A report with practical recommendations for policy-makers, funders and those who deliver cultural activity will be published later this year.