2012 Local Authority Arts Spending Survey Report

First published on Thu, October 25, 2012.

Local Authority investment in the arts has remained stable over the past year, but the future funding for arts programmes looks uncertain, according to the findings of Arts Development UK’s ninth annual survey of Local Authority arts spending.

• Average funding per Local Authority remained stable between 2011 and 2012. However, 32% of the Local Authorities surveyed indicate that they expect severe service reductions in the near future and the average staffing budget has fallen by 18%.

• Capital spending – that is, investment which leads to future or long-term benefits – was low in 2011, but has fallen away to almost nothing in 2012.

• There has been a 41% reduction in the amount Local Authorities are spending on regularly funded organisations, suggesting that Local Authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to commit to long-term spending initiatives.

• It is also notable that there has been a significant decline in partnership working between Arts Councils in England and Wales and some local authorities: 41% of authorities reported that they have a neutral relationship with their regional office of their Arts Council, and 24% report that they have no relationship at all, an increase of 5% since 2011.

• The ways in which authorities justify arts spending indicate an increasing concern with financial rather than social or educational returns. Arguments used to demonstrate how the arts contribute to corporate priorities have focused predominantly 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.

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