It sounds like a number of artists will be for the high-jump. Principally as, with lottery funds being diverted to pay for the London Olympics, taking up the high-jump could be more lucrative than making art.
Artists whinging about money is unedifying and demeaning, but on this occasion it appears justified. In the midst of careful strategic planning, lobbying and development by the Arts Council the Department for Culture Media and Sport and let it be known (bad news is, if possible, never announced), the Grants4Arts fund, which delivers National Lottery cash to arts organisations, is to be cut by 35% next year.
This is the fund that helped underwrite Of All The People In All The World’s UK tour in 2005 and is contributing significantly to The Cleansing Of Constance Brown being made. As we receive some revenue funding from Arts Council England we try not to bid into Grants4Arts much, but when we do it is for projects we feel are highly significant for the companies development. A 35% cut spell bad news for us, but potential disaster for companies and individuals without revenue funds and without our momentum and reputation, at an earlier stage in development.
It would be galling enough if the money were a direct transfer from Artists to Athletes, but in truth the money will go to building contractors and security guards. The whole country is paying for urban regeneration in East London, a worthy cause indeed, but not something that should rob us all of cultural opportunities.
Chopping budgets around until they balance is a swift business for accountants, but developing a strong culture takes much time and continuity. This sporting spasm, for all its talk of sporting legacy, will leave an equivalent bleak artistic legacy. This is a shame both for those who value their art and those who value their sport, as what should be a great celebration is rapidly stirring up resentment and cynicism. For those of us who value both sport and art is a double disappointment.
Prepare to tighten your belts, we may need some lumber support.