In summer 2016 Arts Development UK (ADUK) undertook its 13th annual local authority spending survey to assess the level of arts spending forecast for 2016/17. For the last 4 years the survey has been in association with Arts Council of Wales, demonstrating ADUK’s growing relationship with local authorities in Wales as well as England, delivering our ambition to broaden the membership and our activities in both countries. The survey has enabled a comparison of past trends and focussed on relevant contemporary concerns, such as financial issues, priority targets, partnerships and the relationship with other bodies including the Arts Councils in England and Wales. Responses to the 2016 survey reveal a challenging picture of the arts in local communities. ADUK sent an online survey to all authorities in England and Wales. We received 44 responses from local authorities, representing 12% of all authorities in England and Wales, and out of this, 19% of authorities with an arts service, a comparable response rate to the survey response in 2015. The full report is available here: aduk-local-authority-arts-investment-report-2016-final
The survey continues to be important and we are pleased that respondents took part despite shortages of staff and time. The 2016 survey shows what is important to arts services currently provided by local authorities (read more below):
- The total estimated spend in England and Wales on arts services for 2016/17 is projected to fall to £174,687,777: a reduction of £26 million (13%) on 2015/16. The landscape is changing with several authorities losing their arts service this year and a reduction in the number of smaller authorities able to take part in the survey.
- Arts spend per head of population in 2016/17 in England and Wales is estimated at £1.42 per person, a decrease of 12.9% (21p) on last year.
- The average projected local authority budget for arts spending in all responding authorities in 2016/17 is £522,228, 13% down on last year’s average actual spend. The fall is proportionately higher in England (14%) than Wales (5%).
- The survey shows the modal range of arts expenditure for authorities being between £150k and £500k. 40% of authorities in England have services with arts spending lower than £150,000, whereas the figure rises slightly in Wales to £150,000 – £200,000. Responses continue to demonstrate an overall loss of arts services in smaller authorities, who are more vulnerable to cuts or closure and we have lost a considerable number of small authority arts services over the last few years. Larger and medium sized authorities are more likely to retain cohesive arts services.
- Spending on staff costs constitutes 23% of the total budget. This is set against the reduction in spending on directly managed services and the move towards contracting out. The highest percentage of arts service staff per authority reported in 2016/17 is 2-3 (FTE). We explored this subject further to find out how many officers have job descriptions that include Arts Policy or Arts Development work (at least 30% of time spent on this work), the result was an average of 1.9 staff per authority. It is estimated at present that nearly 1,800 establishment posts are directly employed in arts services by local authorities. This compares with an estimated 5,600 staff members recorded in 2008/9.
- The 2016 survey has demonstrated the vulnerability of partnership development, with external partnerships down on last year by 4% to an average of 59% of local authorities developing partnership arrangements. Internal partnerships are however down by a staggering 39% to just 18%, demonstrating the lack of available funding in the local government sector, and perhaps heralding more of the steady decline in major project development. Partnerships however do make substantial contributions to arts budgets with almost 50% of local authorities in some form of partnership to help deliver arts services, demonstrating the need to be outward facing and open to opportunities to support local communities.
- The average spending to NPO (National Portfolio Organisation)/APW (Arts Portfolio Wales) regularly funded organisations in partnership with ACE and ACW accounts for 48% of the total arts spend, an increase of 4%, demonstrating the active partnership between local authorities and the Arts Councils in England and Wales.
- As again demonstrated in the 2016 survey, local authorities have historically been significant funders of independent arts organisations, especially in areas with little or no NPO/APW provision by ACE or ACW. Support for non- NPO/APW arts organisations accounts for up to 11% of total arts spend, and this has seen an average decrease in investment per authority by 6%.
- Arts contribute to public service outcomes, with 89% of respondents supporting local economy and regeneration agendas, 82% of respondents stating that their arts services contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes; 75% stated that they contribute to stronger and safer communities; 66% contributing to equality and exclusion, and 68% contributing to education & child services.
- Responses to job security showed that this is still a period of instability for the arts in local government, with at least 28% of those under threat of major cuts, but only 3% under threat of closure. For most, although the threat of immediate closure seems to have declined, local authorities still face severe cutbacks in funding and we will not know the full picture until the national government spending review takes place in autumn 2016.
- There are still a high number of respondents expecting redundancies, with 18% anticipating more redundancies in 2016/17 and 28% in 2017/18. Reasons given for this include being uncertainty about the future, changing structure and changing status.
- 50% of local authorities taking part recorded a funding decrease with a further 26% reporting standstills (with and without inflation). The move to contracting out services continues with 9% of authorities reporting that they have contracted their services to a third party organisation. We also asked respondents their opinions on the future funding for arts services within their local authority over the next 2 or 3 years. 48% of respondents expected a funding decrease; 9% expected that their services would be contracted out; and 11% thought that their services were under threat of closure.
- Capital programmes rose in 2015/16 with authorities spending an average of £95,292 per authority. In England the average spend was £76,626 whilst Welsh authorities spent proportionately more at £151,289 per authority. Major works and refurbishments accounted for 67% of capital spending whilst strategic new projects accounted for 33%.
- Over 50% of all arts and cultural services have been restructured in the last 2 years. Of those that responded positively, 55% had moved to a different department and the majority of those who responded felt that this had made their service less vulnerable to cuts. Whilst restructuring continues to take place, there is evidence that this continues to make respondents feel more confident about their positions in the future.
- The relationship between local authorities and ACE/ACW is improving with 67% of respondents stating that it was active and developing. However, 10% stated that they had no relationship with their regional office.
- Local authority financial support from lottery funding from ACE and ACW has increased from the previous year, with an average of £69,908 per authority: an increase of 35%. There is parity between Arts Councils in England and Wales in their support for local authorities.
In a joint statement from Jane Wilson, Chair of ADUK and Tony Witton, Chair of ADUK’s Research and Advocacy Working Party & Trustee, Tony and Jane comment: “This year’s survey shows the continued and gradual erosion of funding for the arts alongside evidence that arts activity continues to be funded from other budgets due to its recognised ability to deliver outcomes across a range of services. It is notable that the results seem to be a reflection of the fact that local authorities are being cautious, waiting to see if the impact of the Autumn Statement will be as devastating as rumours are suggesting it will be.
In the face of these ongoing reductions, Arts Development UK continues to be committed to providing the tools and opportunities that enable us all to work together to ensure the value of the arts is acknowledged and championed and that local authorities continue to develop creative approaches to working in partnership and maintaining the strength of support which the arts deserves.”