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Written by Jack Hopkins on 22nd November 2017

Money talks, and with today’s budget announcement, ongoing Brexit negotiations and imminent arrival of Black Friday, we’re going to focus on arts funding this week.

As we all know, London is the undisputed frontrunner for jobs in the arts sector, supplying ‘45% of arts jobs in Britain.’ Arts funding in Britain isn’t always at the top of the political agenda but there’s evidence to suggest that it should be. The diverse nature of the cultural industries conjures up a huge array of consumable content. Of course, the shear amount of cultural happenings in London does drive prices up but there’s still demand and consequent money to be made.

The importance of the arts has been recently recognised by the Theatres Trust. The organisation funds the restoration of London’s smaller theatres in an attempt to maintain and grow accessibility. Applecart Arts, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Chats Palace, and the Park Theatre each received a grant of £5,000 for structural improvements. So, there seems to be noticeable economic successes at a grass-roots level but what about on a national scale?

A large chunk of funding for the arts comes from the National Lottery. Research has shown that ‘lottery funds account for nearly 40% of income at Creative Scotland.’ Scottish Ministers have recognised the significance of dwindling National Lottery ticket sales and have threatened to call the UK Government “irresponsible” if they don’t intervene. It still remains to be seen whether Phillip Hammond has addressed it in his recent budget.

The dramatic rise to power of content services like Netflix and Amazon have undoubtedly had an effect on home-grown British talent. According to a study from the BBC there will be a funding cut of ‘£500m over the next 10 years,’ showing a potential lack on impetus from the government. The study also shockingly reveals that ‘10 years ago, 83% of independent production companies in the UK were British or European-owned but today it’s less than 40%.’

Things aren’t all doom and gloom though as the arts have survived and continue to thrive. A study last year by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that ‘every £1 spent by the Arts Council brings £5 in tax returns to the Treasury.’ Not recognising the arts as a viable sector worthy of economic input would prove to be a huge mistake, not only for the economy but for the buzzing cultural scene that makes Britain such an artistic pioneer.  

How important is arts funding to your political stance? Should it be more widely discussed?

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