The National Campaign for the Arts (NCA) is leading this new campaign to safeguard and increase local authority investment in arts, museums and heritage. The campaign brings together new research, data analysis and a website (www.50pforculture.org) where residents in England can find out how much local authorities planned to invest in culture in their area in 2013/14.
The NCA is encouraging people in England who care about culture to visit www.50pforculture.org and enter their postcode to discover the level of investment in their area; depending on whether that level is low, average or high they can then send an appropriate message to their local representatives. The website will also keep monitoring planned changes in investment by every local authority and highlight those who are cutting culture disproportionately.
Actor and director Samuel West is Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts. He said:
'We know town and county halls are facing tough choices as they try to balance their books. In the last five years, many of them have seen culture as an easy target, and chosen to cut it disproportionately. The research we have commissioned shows that far from being a minority concern, this is something their constituents really care about: most people - almost two thirds – want local authority culture funding to triple.
'Because investment levels are so small – less than half a penny in every pound - cutting them won’t balance the books. Instead, it will make independent cultural organisations unsustainable and could make the UK cultural desert spread.
'This survey shows that nearly 90% of those responding want local authorities to support the arts. Local authorities have a long and proud history of bringing culture to their communities and have played a major part in making the UK a world leader in the creative industries. Good, affordable art should be a part of the nourishing meal we serve our citizens. Access to it should not be a postcode lottery, or depend on people being rich. Locally and nationally, we have a lot to lose if culture continues to be cut at the levels we are seeing. I hope the 50p for Culture campaign will make local politicians and officers value culture as much as their constituents obviously do.’
The 50p for Culture campaign is being led by the National Campaign for the Arts, which is now entirely run by a small unpaid board and a number of other volunteers. In-kind design support and web development were provided by Cog Design and Tincan. Accounting support came from MacIntyre Hudson. The Ipsos MORI research was co-commissioned by the NCA, UK Theatre Association, Equity, The Stage and the Museums Association. Other campaign supporters include the Society of London Theatre, Making Music, Independent Theatre Council and the National Museums Directors' Council.
To contact the volunteers running this campaign, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The data used to calculate how much is being invested per week in your local area come from two publicly available, free official sources:
Local Government investment figures come from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Revenue account (RA) budget 2013 to 2014
This government department tracks what every local authority plans to spend at the start of the year as well as monitoring what it has actually spent at the end of the year. The figures we have used are for planned ‘net’ investment in 2013/14, in other words just the amount the local authority would have to find from its core budgets, not including income from ticket sales, other grants, etc. We have also just included revenue investment, so this does not take account of any current or past spending on new buildings or major refurbishments. We have chosen to take this approach as the Audit Commission historically thought this was the best figure to use and central government has for many years taken ‘net expenditure excluding capital charges’ as the most useful figure for tracking local government spending on culture and sport.
These are the best nationally available figures but we are aware that they are only as good as the information provided to the DCLG. Some authorities may have their overall investment under-reported as they haven’t coded all the relevant spend correctly. We’re particularly aware that this may be the case with some local authorities who support culture in their areas through an external trust.
Population figures come from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). We have used the Population Estimates for England and Wales, Mid-2011.
Many areas in England are supported by two tiers of local government. For example, counties like Kent and Cumbria have both County Councils and District Councils. In London, as well as 33 Boroughs, the Mayor and the Greater London Authority invest in arts, museums and heritage. Whenever there are two tiers of local government we have calculated what the ‘top tier’ figure is per person and then added this to the second tier per person to give the best possible estimate for all local authority investment in a particular area.
We’d like to thank Arts Council England very much for checking our data before publication and providing very useful feedback.