Arts Council England leaves smaller organizations out in the cold

Posted on: September 1, 2009

In Tuesday’s (9/1) Guardian (London), Lyn Gardner writes that she feels “utter despair—at the decisions made by Arts Council England over who does and does not benefit from its £40m Sustain fund. The fund has now made 18 awards from 120 applications, and the message it sends out to the arts community and the wider public is not encouraging: £700,000 to the Royal Opera House; £760,000 to the Philharmonia Orchestra; £750,000 to the English National Opera. … Meanwhile, smaller organisations have been turned down even when they have been backed to the hilt by regional arts council offices. Or they are told they are ineligible to apply in the first place because they are too small.” Applicants must request a minimum of £75,000 from the Sustain fund, Gardner notes. “If your annual funding is only £70,000 (the average of many new regularly funded organisations), then it is quite difficult to come up with reasons why you need £75,000. It strikes me as divisive and hugely damaging to morale to see the Royal Opera House get a top-up of 10 times that amount, enough to create 10 new RFOs [regularly funded organization], at a time when many small arts organisations are fighting for their survival.”

Posted September 1, 2009