Ranging from acting as a critical friend to champion of the arts, a report by London Councils offers specific recommendations on how local authorities can fill the gap left by falling funding.
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London boroughs must take advantage of their capacities as landlords, planning authorities and strategic brokers and better support local arts organisations, in order to “sustain arts and culture, even in the face of difficult financial circumstances." The report by London Councils makes twenty recommendations to help London boroughs work effectively with national and regional bodies as they prepare for the £2.4bn shortfall in local authority funding expected by 2020.
A previous report found that London’s arts organisations and artists would most like local councils to help them with publicity and networking, and by offering direct in-kind support – such as free or subsided space and help with grant applications – although such help was not consistently available. As such, the report recommends that London boroughs act as “champions of local arts and culture,” providing artists and cultural organisations with free publicity via council channels. In their capacity as landlords, councils should offer free and subsidised hire and leases, and the report suggests establishing a database of available spaces within each borough.
In order to help organisations access new income streams, the report recommends making public sector commissioning more accessible by reducing contract sizes, “simplifying” bidding and evaluation requirements, and simply helping organisations to meet local authority commissioners. Other recommendations include acting as a “critical friend,” offering business support services, and establishing new culture networks to encourage training and information sharing, and to introduce arts organisations to relevant partners, funders and contacts within councils.
The report follows AP’s revelations last year that London’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) receive an average of just 3.7% of their total income from their local authority, compared to 8.6% received by NPOs outside of the capital.