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Arts Council England announces investment plans for 2015-18 in London

  • Date: 3 July 2014
  • Area: London

On 1st July the Arts Council announced its investment in National portfolio and Major partner museum programmes for 2015-18, outlining the arts organisations and museums we will fund for three years as the core of our local, regional and national arts and culture infrastructure.

During 2015-18 the Arts Council will invest £481.9m in 245 National portfolio organisations and £6.1m in two Major partner museums in London, supporting organisations across the capital to build on their strong success to date and to continue to reach audiences across England.

London is a powerhouse of arts and culture in England, its artists and arts organisations make a big contribution to the country as a whole, and internationally, as well as the cultural life of the London communities which they serve. The Arts Council's investment will ensure that London will be able to build on its success to date, extending the breadth and depth of its reach across England. We are pleased that London continues to host five of the nine major national companies funded by the Arts Council, and that we can continue to support their role as cultural assets for the whole of the country.

The portfolio which we announced on the 1st July is artistically diverse and offers stability for existing NPOs and MPMs, as well as providing new opportunities for the cohort of organisations which we have been able to bring into the portfolio.

16 new organisations have joined the London portfolio, including:

  • William Morris Gallery in Waltham Forest has been funded for its contemporary arts programme, which has seen attendances quadruple over the last three years.
  • The Koestler Trust is being supported for its work in UK criminal justice settings, developing artistic and curatorial skills among young people otherwise alienated from education and employment opportunities.
  • Create has been brought into the portfolio following its success in supporting and promoting cultural programmes in East London in the run up to, during and post 2012, and is one of our key legacy projects from the Cultural Olympiad.
  • National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Jazz re:freshed will join the portfolio, strengthening the talent development of and opportunities for outstanding young jazz musicians.

A small number of uplifts have been awarded to NPOs for organisations that proposed a programme of work with outstanding artistic ambition. Much of this additional work will focus on talent development and support for early career artists. Examples include:

  • Akram Khan's dance company has been offered increased funding for a step change in its touring model which will allow it to focus on developing talent and showcasing its work across England.
  • Spitalfields Music has been offered additional funding to extend its work with children and young people, including through its Musical Rumpus project, and with a particular focus on increasing opportunities for young people in Newham and Barking and Dagenham to engage with arts and culture.
  • Aurora Music has been offered additional investment to reach and engage with new audiences in and out of London.
  • Tomorrow's Warriors has been offered additional funding to increase artistic commissioning, supporting talent development and enabling the organisation to fulfil its fundraising potential

Veronica Wadley, Chair of London's Area Council, said: 'London is the greatest city in the world for arts and culture and I am delighted that the Arts Council's substantial and sustained investment will continue to support outstanding arts organisations across the capital. There were many difficult decisions and of course it is never easy to cut funding but is vital that we support new and emerging artists as well as the midscale and large organisations that have flourished in recent years. Many, based in London,  contribute to the excellence of the arts right across the country, playing an important role in supporting the Arts Council's goal of achieving great art and culture for everyone.'

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: 'London is offers an exciting mix of arts and cultural organisations, producing diverse and innovative work that engages local communities across the capital alongside national and international audiences and artists. We have maintained a portfolio that builds on this wonderful ecology, and demonstrates a diversity not just of artforms, but also a diversity of style and content, of the talent that it supports and the audiences that it reaches. The wealth of partnerships and collaboration that we see developing in this portfolio will not only support greater innovation, but also strengthen the long term resilience of these arts and cultural organisations.'

The Arts Council knew it had tough decisions to make and that there would be organisations whose funding we would have to reduce and applicants we would have to fund at less than they have applied for. The total applied for nationally was £422m against a budget of £355m, so we have had to use our judgement to make choices which we believe will deliver the best possible value for money, nurturing resilient arts ecology and supporting our goals.

There were 15 organisations which we were unable to keep in the portfolio, and a number which have had their funding reduced.

English National Opera (ENO) has had its funding reduced by £5m per annum. Although it has built an international reputation for daring interpretations of mainstream and contemporary opera, for collaborations with talent across the arts, and for its role in nurturing British singers and artists, ENO has struggled to reach box office targets and to achieve long-term stability, despite receiving significant financial interventions over the years.

Whilst noting recent improved performance, ENO has drawn heavily on its reserves and both the Arts Council and ENO agree there is now a need for radical change to its business model. Through intense discussion, ENO expressed a wish to develop an approach and plan which would incorporate the lower planning figure while maintaining a full season at the Coliseum. In its National Portfolio application, ENO has embraced the need for a new business model based on reduced funding and has committed to working with the Arts Council to achieve that end. ENO has already established new partnerships and is exploring further ideas.

These ideas will feed into negotiations over a new funding agreement for 2015-18. We recognise that it will inevitably take time for a complex organisation like ENO to develop a new business model, and that the company may require some one-off transition funding to support that change. We have allocated up to £7.6m to help ENO achieve its ambitions, all of which will be articulated in the funding agreement for 2015-2018.

Alongside our investment in the National Portfolio, there will also be £102 million a year of Strategic funds to target gaps and opportunities including regional production and capacity building outside London. Our open access Grants for the Arts programme, for one off projects and early career artists, will also be increased to £70 million a year. These represent further and significant opportunities for the cultural sector in London.

Our most recent investment through our Large and Small capital programmes has seen Wayne McGregor/Random Dance invited to apply for the creation of a brand new facility, Random Spaces, in the Olympic Park, and support for the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery in Ealing to repair, refurbish and upgrade the gallery as part of a wider transformation project.