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Select Committee states that London arts lottery funding is out of all proportion to its population

WestminsterA “clear funding imbalance in favour of London” is being paid for by tax payers and Lottery players in other parts of the country, and the capital receives a share of arts funding that is “out of all proportion to its population”, according to a report by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the Work of Arts Council England. Whilst noting that some of the imbalance can be explained by London’s status as a capital city and world centre of culture, and recognising the danger of “fragmenting funding to the extent that few benefit”, the Committee says that Arts Council England (ACE) must do more to restore the balance “with greater urgency if it is to realise its declared ambition to engineer the provision of great art and culture for everyone”. It calls for ACE to be “more proactive when it comes to encouraging high quality applications from around the country and establishing the underlying reasons for any current imbalance”.

The report is the culmination of a 6-month inquiry tasked with investigating the scope, scale and remit of ACE, the economic and artistic criteria that underpin its funding decisions, and whether the geographical distribution of its funding is fair. Three oral evidence sessions were held, and comments were made in a further 200 submissions of written evidence from interested parties across the arts, museums and libraries. These, supported by fact-finding trips to Liverpool and Bradford, provided the basis of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.

Proposals for creating a fairer funding balance include “limiting London’s access to National Lottery funding for the arts to its proper per capita share – equal to that of the rest of England”, which was a solution initially proposed by the authors of Rebalancing our Cultural Capital (RoCC), the research report that prompted the inquiry. The Committee agrees that this mechanism “would help redress the funding imbalance and benefit England as a whole”, even if other major funding streams were to be broadly distributed as they are currently, and sees it as an approach that could be phased in: “We believe this could be achieved in a timely fashion without threatening London’s world status as a cultural centre.”
Read more at Arts Professional.