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Arts Development UK Local Authority Arts Funding Survey 2012

Arts Development UK are pleased to announce the release of our ninth annual local authority arts spending survey, undertaken to assess the level of arts spending for 2012/13. The survey shows that there have been significant changes to budgets in local authority arts spending, but many authorities are now showing a certain amount of financial stabilisation. 

The survey took the form of a questionnaire sent to heads of arts or cultural officers in all authorities in England and Wales in summer 2012 and was sent to both member and non-member authorities. In this particularly challenging time, over 70 local authorities responded, representing 21% of all authorities in England and Wales.  We would like to thank all participants for their responses. 

The results of the survey show important trends in arts services either currently provided by local authorities or outsourced by them:

  • The downward trend in most areas of activity continues. Although an element of stabilisation in the short-term is beginning to appear, the long term is still expected to bring budget cuts and changes
  • There is a growing need for arts services to demonstrate their economic value
  • Arts services are increasingly recognised as important in improving the quality of life and helping to address social, health and wellbeing issues in local communities.
  • Arts services have been vital in engaging and inspiring people to take part in the Cultural Olympiad. 

Key findings included:

  • The average local authority budget for arts spending is £384,987, consistent with the 2011 average of £381,605. The finding demonstrated stabilisation in funding overall, but does not account for the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 2.6%.
  • The average spend on staff costs has decreased to £157,705 showing a downward trend against figures for 2011/12 of £194,196 and 2010/11 of £195,216. This illustrates an 18% decline on average spend per authority on staff costs from 2011/12 to 2012/13.
  • The average spend on revenue funded clients has declined by over 41% demonstrating that local authorities find it increasingly difficult to maintain regularly funded organisations.
  • For every £1 spent by local authorities on arts service, leverage from grant aid and partnership working brings in £3.83 of additional funding.
  • Arts services are still facing funding problems. Although 50% reported standstill, another 31.8% are expecting severe service reduction showing that there are still difficult times ahead.
  • Although last year’s capital spend was extremely low, in 2012 it is almost non-existent, with only 3 authorities recording capital spends, each of under £2,000.
  • Restructuring of services is still very high at over 50%, and there is evidence that this has made respondents more confident of their position in the short term.
  • Financial priorities are getting increasingly keen, with 22% declaring the need to maximise external funding, make partnerships and secure additional income and a further 19% stating the need to demonstrate the value of services provided and how they provide a return on council investment
  • There is a significant decline in partnership working between the Arts Councils in England and Wales and some local authorities.
  • Arguments used to demonstrate how the arts contribute to corporate priorities have all focused on economic impact. Whilst the creative agenda registered quite strongly, it was often associated with working with other agencies and priorities for social, health and community safety agendas. 

Two local authority arts services closed their service at the beginning of 2012 – 13, with 47 authorities having closed their arts service in the past nine years. 

Respondents also reported an increasing trend towards combining arts services with other services (such as regeneration or wider community services) indicating a possible loss of specialism, but at the same time greater security for arts services, where they are seen to be delivering strongly against corporate objectives.  A positive note comes through the increase in leverage arts budgets are achieving; with every £1 spend attracting £3.83 from other departments or external organisations – despite councils reporting that only 18 of those surveyed secured Arts Council funds in England and Wales.  Local authority contributions to Arts Council Regularly Funded Organisations/National Portfolio Organisations is also down, on average by 41%.  Councils do however continue to be a source of funding for non- RFO/NPO status bodies, with 62% of authorities investing in local independent or voluntary art provision not otherwise supported by Arts Councils in England and Wales. 

Jane Wilson, Chair of AD:uk said “The fact that arts services are increasingly able to make the case for their role in meeting wider corporate objectives, especially economic, shows that as a sector we are adapting to new circumstances, and it is good to see that local authority arts budgets have stabilised, at least in the short term. It is however more concerning to see the lack of any capital investment and the reduction in funding for staff, as these short term savings, often with little short term impact, clearly put at risk the long term health of locally based arts.

2012/13 is the second year under the new government financial settlement and the survey has captured some of the current stabilisation presently underway. Many authorities are still fearful of the effects that the continued recession is having on their cultural services and this will need to be monitored in future years. As the trend in outsourcing and alternative means of service delivery continues, Arts Development UK will also need to ensure surveys in future capture fully local authority spend on the arts through all means. 

A full version of the report is available here (click the item and then click again in the new page):   2012 LA Arts Spending Survey Report Final

For further information, please contact Pete Bryan, Administrator Arts Development UK at or tel: 01269 824728.