Sunday, June 16, 2013

The £17 million Arts Council handbag

The DCMS has just announced that it has negotiated an 8% cut to its funding from 2015-16 with the Treasury. Hooray! This is less than the 10% to 15% being predicted, and will likely translate into a 5% cut for the Arts Council. 

And besides, it's fair enough. The arts must play their part in reducing the deficit ... right?

Well, let's see.

Here's a handy way of imagining how much the latest cut to the Arts Council will help reduce our debt by.

UK public sector net debt is just over £1 trillion. The 8% cut to the DCMS just announced in this year's Comprehensive Spending Review is anticipated to translate into a 5% cut to the Arts Council, some £17 million. That's 0.00017% of the net public debt.

Let's say the £1 trillion net public debt is a jumbo jet. A fully loaded Boeing 747 weighs 362 metric tonnes, or 362,000 kilograms. 0.00017% of this weight is just over 6kg, roughly one piece of hand luggage. That should give you some idea of just how much difference to the public debt the latest cut to the Arts Council will make.

You've taken one piece of hand luggage off the plane.

(Even if you were to scrap the entire Arts Council tomorrow, that would only be 117
kg - or about five suitcases.)

Now let's see how much chucking that one piece of hand luggage overboard will cost us.

Arts Council England is projected to have a budget of £342 million in 2014-15, which we now know will be reduced by 5% - £17 million - for 2015-16.

Let's see how many NPOs that works out as. I suggest taking out the top 6 because they get a disproportionate amount to everyone else and so distort the averages.

So not counting:

English National Opera (£17 million)
National Theatre (£17 million)
Royal Opera (£25 million)
Southbank Centre (£20 million)
Royal Shakespeare Company (£17 million)
Opera North (£10 million)

That leaves 690 NPOs getting a total of £236 million between them - an average of £342,000 each. Divide that figure into the £17 million cut and you're looking at a 100% funding cut for 49.7 arts organisations.

Is that handbag really worth it? Hey, at least it's off the plane.


Anonymous said...

Brilliantly put.

Anonymous said...

That handbag might have had a bomb inside it! I feel so safe now.

Anonymous said...

All these misconstrued statistics completely miss the point. But here's an idea. Look, everyone's getting a cut. Why not cut these top 6 and spread that money around the regions instead. If you really think the arts need funding at all. You really think there's any taxpayer support for funding the opera? Really? I think most people would prefer to pay less tax. Or get better benefits. Or have the local swimming pool refurbished than fund the opera. In London. Which, even though we are all paying for it is simply stunningly expensive. I wouldn't pay those prices. I go when I get a free ticket. Do you know anyone who would pay those prices from their own pocket?

Fin Kennedy said...

Mr Vaizey, I have written you a long letter about all this. Check your inbox.

Verla said...

This is cool!