A sign of the times?

A sign of the times?

Arts Council England has said it will cut most recipients grants by 15% by 2015 and shrink its own staff to meet government belt-tightening requirements. The Council's operating costs, of which staff account for 56%, will be halved to 12 million pounds in real terms by 2015. Chief Executive Colin Davey says “it will quite a different Arts Council with fewer people doing things in a different way”.

The cuts take in Arts & Business, the 34-year-old nonprofit group that helps cultural organisations get funding from companies, trusts and foundations, and wealthy individuals. Arts & Business will see its 3.8 million pound grant halved  in 2011-12, then cut off completely. The move has taken CEO Colin Tweedy by surprise who says, “it's not what you would normally do if you want to encourage the private sector to do more.” 
New Zealand's Minister of Arts, Culture & Heritage, Chris Finlayson would agree. He has set up a taskforce to investigate ways to improve philanthropic giving. “The Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce is interested in finding out how to increase charitable giving by private individuals over and above – not instead of – Government funding”, he says. Mind you, the Minister's commitment to maintaining arts funding could be put to the test as the economy continues to stutter along and the Government faces the possibility of an election year recession on its watch.
The Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce is headed up by Peter Biggs (former chair of Creative New Zealand) and the other members are Margaret Belich, Carolyn Henwood, James S Hill, Dame Jenny Gibbs and Dayle Mace.