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Alan Davey urges local authorities to sustain arts investment

  • Date: 31 March 2010
  • Area: National

Our Chief Executive Alan Davey is urging local authorities across the country to maintain their investment in the arts, and warns that the Arts Council can't mitigate council cutbacks.

Speaking on 31 March 2010 at the Arts Council-sponsored Local Government Association's annual culture, tourism and sport conference in Newcastle, Alan argued that local authority investment in the arts has already paid dividends in terms of economic and social benefits, and that the arts are well placed to play an even greater role in the future success of local communities, if investment is sustained.

'I recognise the pressure local authority budgets are under, and the need for tough decisions to be made,' he said, 'but I really do not believe there is an area of public expenditure where such a small amount of money delivers greater benefits than the arts.

Arts organisations help local economies

'There are numerous examples of arts organisations generating huge amounts for their local economies. Recent economic impact studies have shown that in its first year of operation the Sage in Gateshead contributed £43 million to the north east economy, in the south east the De La Warr Pavilion contributed £16 million, and Pallant House Gallery in Chichester £2.7 million.

'These are just a few examples of the arts as income generators, contributing towards regeneration, investment and economic development.'

Alan added that the arts also attract tourism and business, creating the kinds of communities that people want to live in.

We can't replace lost local authority funding

He warned that the Arts Council will not be able to provide funding to mitigate any local authority cuts, saying: 'While we will of course continue to work closely with local authorities across the country to support arts organisations, the Arts Council is simply not in a position to replace any lost local authority funding.

'We've got to have grown-up conversations about our shared ambitions for the arts, and how they contribute to what people really want in their communities. We need to make sure that in 10 years, we still have an infrastructure that works.'

Delegates visited arts venues

Other speakers at the Local Government Association conference include Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Minister for Culture and Tourism, Ed Vaizey MP, Shadow Minister for Culture and the Creative Industries, and Bonnie Greer, writer and playwright.

While in Newcastle, the Local Government Association delegates visited the Sage Gateshead, the BALTIC, the Seven Stories centre for children's books, Northern Print and the Biscuit Factory art gallery.

Read Alan Davey's speech in full.