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> > > Arts Council announces investment plans for 2015 to 2018
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Today Arts Council England announced details of its investment plans for the next three years including its new national portfolio of arts organisations and museums representing a major public investment in England’s arts and culture. Changes to funding seem to have been far less severe than predicted. From an initial analysis investment appears to have gone towards stabilizing the effects of the large cuts in the last round.

The new National Portfolio is made up of 670 arts organisations (NPOs) and 21 Major Partner Museums (MPMs) with 46 arts organisations joining the portfolio and 58 leaving. Five new museums have been added to the portfolio ensuring a wider geographic spread.  

Despite having to use more lottery funding to plug the gap created by further reductions from governmental grant in aid Arts Council is increasing the Grants for the Arts budget to £70m in 2015/16, from £63m in 2014/15. This has been made possible by a reduction in strategic funds. 

So what does this mean for disabled artists and disability-led organisations in the coming years? An initial look at the datasheets provided show that amongst those organisations funded are: Candoco, Carousel, DaDaFest, DASH, Daily Life Ltd, Deafinitely Theatre, Drake Music, Extant, Graeae, Heart’n Soul, Lawnmowers, Mind the Gap, Oily Cart Company, Shape, Stopgap Dance Company and Vital Xposure. 

Shape CEO Tony Heaton said: “Shape is delighted to maintain our role as a strategically important organisation within the arts sector and look forward to working with the Arts Council to deliver “Great art and culture for everyone”. This funding will support our aims and enable Shape to continue developing and promoting the work and achievements of disabled artists throughout our planned programme. Shape will also continue to play a leading role in delivering the Unlimited commissions and NDACA, the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive”.

Lou Rogers of Stopgap said “Stopgap are thrilled to again be part of the National Portfolio. We are proud that our pioneering work has been recognised by the Arts Council.”

Ann Wade, Executive Director of DaDaFest who announced their 2014 Festival yesterday said: “We’re delighted DaDaFest has been successful in remaining an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, enabling us to carry on presenting excellent arts that empower disabled and deaf people. We are working in an extremely competitive environment and the cuts both through the arts council, and across the public sector are making quite an impact, especially as disabled and deaf people are feeling the force of general austerity measures. However, we are really glad for the support of Arts Council England and their recognition of the contribution disability arts makes to both the sector and wider society.”

The Arts Council admitted that the number of BME and disability-led organisations have reduced in the portfolio, but highlighted that the 51% rule applied to board leadership does not adequately represent the diverse workforce because it excludes those working in senior management roles. A new method for representing the diversity of the arts and cultural workforce is clearly needed if we are to gain a true picture. A requirement has been made on all NPOs to address how they engage with the Creative Case for Diversity and how they will embed diversity into their work for the funding period although details of how those organisations will be made publicly accountable for this pledge were not made available at the announcement. 

The Arts Council announcement also stated: “If we get diversity right we get better art and appeal to wider audiences. For the first time all organisations will be asked to demonstrate how they will make their work relevant to a wider range of audiences and build a workforce that better reflects our contemporary society, making the Creative Case for diversity a reality. We will use £6 million strategic funds to support this.” This will include further support of the Unlimited programme. 

For full details of the announcement visit the Arts Council’s Website 

Download the Arts Council’s Equality Impact assessment