The Conservative government are famous for not being a friend to the arts, however, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport can boast a small victory of receiving cuts to their budget that are far lower than expected, at just 8%. The cuts come as part of George Osborne’s spending reviews, which will be announced in full on the 26th of June. The decision was made after Arts Council England was asked to model for cuts of 5, 10 and 15 percent, which puts this 8% cut in the lower margins of what the government was prepared to offer. The cuts are expected to be implemented in 2015-2016.
George Osborne has announced that he will be making £11.5billion in reductions to overall public spending. However, the NHS, schooling and foreign aid has been ring-fenced against major cuts, leading to larger cuts in other areas. Despite Culture Secretary Maria Miller refusing to negotiate any cuts, Peter Bazalgate, the chair of ACE, is claiming this 8% cut as a “massive result”. He claims that “The Treasury have listened to the argument of those within the arts and DMCS”.
This perhaps comes as little surprise, as Prime Minister David Cameron is famously a fan of the commercial music industry, describing it as “world leading” and “going from strength to strength”. Despite delays to the Digital Economy Act, he has previously shown support for the music industry by extending copyright from 50 to 70 years, and claiming he will help combat music piracy.The Conservative argument against arts funding is usually that it is not good “value for money”. However, it seems that British music is doing well as an international business, and that it is therefore safe. Given that Adele’s ‘21’ has been the global top seller for the past 2 years, and that artists such as One Direction and Mumford and Sons have seen massive global success. The music industry has undeniable financial power, which may be its saving grace.
To declare this cut to be a complete success, however, would be farcical. Projections show that a 5% cut would cut the amount of National Portfolio organisations by 1/3, with only 1% being able to receive funding from the Grant for the Arts programme.When a government is led by a man who likes Keane, and has also managed to unite the eternally bickering Johnny Marr and Morrissey in their disapproval of him listening to The Smiths, it may be difficult to trust them when it comes to dealing with matters concerning music. However, given the economic circumstances, and the Conservative’s perceived dislike of the arts, a mere 8% cut in spending may be a small victory for publicly funded music programmes. Despite these cuts making it difficult for these music programmes to operate, a small cut to their funding is, unfortunately, the best we could have hoped for.
The Conservative government are famous for not being a friend to the arts, however, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport can boast a small victory of receiving cuts...