On this page you will find the answers to the following commonly asked questions about arts and culture funding:

Everything you need to know about investment in arts and culture

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What do we achieve by investing in arts and culture?

Arts Council England invests in arts and culture because everyone should have the chance to experience great art, regardless of where they live or how much money they have.

The Arts Council has set out five long-term goals, which help us to decide how we invest the public money we are given. These are:

  • - artistic achievement: we want England to be regarded as a centre for artistic excellence
  • - bringing arts and culture to everybody: we want more people to be involved in and inspired by arts and culture
  • - a sustainable cultural sector: we want the sector to have the stability it needs to nurture talent over the long term, and to contribute to the nation's reputation and prosperity
  • - a diverse and skilled workforce: we want workers and leaders in the cultural sector to reflect the diversity of our society
  • - engaging children and young people: we want future generations to be creative and engaged with arts and culture

For more information on our goals, see our 10-year strategic framework: Great art and culture for everyone.

How does public funding help arts and culture reach new audiences?

The Arts Council wants more people to experience and be inspired by the arts, irrespective of where they live or their social, educational or financial circumstances. Subsidies from us help funded organisations to offer cheap tickets or free entry. For example, the Royal Opera House sells tickets for as little as £4 and 40 per cent are under £40. The Royal Court has £10 Mondays; most theatres have cheap tickets if you are under 26, over 60 or unemployed. Many of our funded galleries have free entry.

Our Creative people and places fund focuses our investment in parts of the country where people's involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average, with the aim of increasing the likelihood of participation. We are investing a total of £37 million in a small number of locations of greatest need, to encourage long term collaborations between local communities and arts organisations, museums, libraries and other partners such as local authorities and the private sector.

Find out more about what we're doing to support reaching new audiences.

How much does investment in arts and culture cost people in England?

Each person in England contributes 14p per week to investment in arts and culture - equivalent to a single dishwasher tablet; a 1-minute mobile phone call or one tenth of a litre of petrol!

How much public money is currently invested by the Arts Council?

Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery in arts and culture to help create experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

In 2011/12, total investment (including Lottery) was £624,479,000. This is the equivalent of £11.77 per person, or 23p per week. Find out more

Find out more about our National portfolio organisations
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Where does this money come from?

The money that the Arts Council invests comes from two main sources. We receive public funding from government - currently our settlement is equivalent to less than 0.05 per cent of total government spending.

We also receive a share of the money spent by players on the National Lottery. For every £1 spent on the Lottery, approximately 4p goes to the Arts Council.

Local authorities also invest in arts and culture in their areas: in 2010/11 they spent 2.7 per cent of their budgets on cultural services. However this figure also includes investment in sport and parks; in 2010/11, only 0.65 per cent of local authority spending was on arts development, museums or galleries, theatres and public entertainment. 

Due to public spending cuts, local authority investment is declining: between 2009/10 and 2011/12 spending on cultural services decreased by 13 per cent.


Where is this money invested?

This money funds a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries, from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, crafts to collections. Find find out more details about our planned investment 2012-15.

What is the risk of continuing cuts?

In the Autumn Statement (5 December 2012), The Department for Culture, Media and Sport revealed that the reductions to their budgets would be passed on to the Arts Council as a cut to our grant in aid of £3.9 million (1 per cent) in 2013/14 and £7.7 million (2 per cent) in 2014/15. Government currently spends less than 0.05 per cent of public money on arts and culture, and this is an investment in a sector that contributes to economic growth and to quality of life for communities across the country.

For these reasons the Arts Council believes that in the context of an extremely challenging public spending environment, funding should be protected at a level that allows this contribution to growth to continue. 

The Arts Council has, however, recognised the likelihood of cuts in the current economic climate. We advised that reductions of more than 15 per cent would inevitably have serious negative consequences for the cultural sector. The scale of these cuts goes beyond that 15 per cent reduction.

If cuts of this level continue it will have serious implications. Organisations are likely to adapt by doing less work, and avoiding the risk-taking approach that often produces the most exciting, innovative results. Talented young artists will find it more difficult to get the support they need to flourish, with an inevitable impact on the quality of Britain's arts and culture in the future. Continued public funding is vital to the whole sector, giving confidence to sponsors and private investors.

How much does the cultural sector contribute to the economy?

Britain has the largest cultural economy in the world as a share of GDP. It consists of 66,910 businesses generating £28 billion each year. The contribution of the music, visual and performing arts sectors alone exceeds £4 billion.

The cultural economy also creates jobs; employment in the creative and cultural sector is expected to grow by a third by 2020, compared to just 6 per cent growth in other sectors. Across the UK 794,160 people work in the creative industries; 694,700 in England alone. The sector is made up predominantly of small and medium enterprises, 92 per cent employing less than 10 people.

The organisations which receive regular public funding from the Arts Council employed a total of 69,021 staff in 2011/12. Of these, 17,226 were permanent staff and 51,795 were contractual staff.

The cultural sector is central to our tourism industry. London musical theatre and classical music sales to tourists are estimated at £67 million per year. A survey of overseas residents showed that on a visit to Britain 49 per cent of visitors would be very likely to go to a live music concert or event, and 38 per cent said that they would go to the theatre, opera or ballet.

Arts and culture also make an important contribution to regeneration. In Nottingham, for example, Nottingham Contemporary contributed £8.7 million to the local economy in its first year. Local retail businesses cite the gallery as a key factor in their decision to invest in the city.

Why does the cultural sector need public money? Can’t it fund itself/find private investors?

Between 2004 and 2009 Arts Council regularly funded organisations have increased their earned income at a faster rate than the growth in public support. Earned income has risen 66 per cent while regular funding from the Arts Council rose by 56 per cent.

Alongside public funding, earned income, commercial revenues and philanthropy are all increasing in importance. They complement public funding in a symbiotic relationship, in which the risk-bearing and stability afforded by public money creates the confidence that attracts other investment and supports world-class experimentation.

For example, the musical Matilda was developed by the Royal Shakespeare Company over seven years, using subsidy combined with philanthropic support. This enabled the director, Michael Boyd, to take the risk on two brilliant writers who were new to musicals. Today, total matured and advance gross sales exceed £24 million, and the show is launching on Broadway in 2014.

Public investment also allows talent to be nurtured consistently over many years. The James Bond film Skyfall, which has grossed $537 million to date, relied upon talent fostered by the subsidised arts. The star, Daniel Craig, and the director, Sam Mendes, both started their careers working in subsidised theatre.

We want more to be done to encourage private investment. A UK Giving survey found that in 2011 arts and culture received only 1 per cent of regular charitable gifts in the UK. For 2012 the figure is still only 1 per cent. Building a culture of philanthropy takes time, and is particularly difficult in a difficult economic climate. Figures from Arts and Business showed a 7 per cent drop in corporate investment in 2010/11.

The Arts Council has invested in Catalyst, a £100 million culture sector wide private giving investment scheme aimed at helping cultural organisations diversify their income streams and access more funding from private sources. The scheme is funded in partnership with Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). For more about Catalyst.

Is this just about subsidising opera-lovers? Who attends arts and cultural events?

Public investment in the arts is not a minority concern; it benefits the great majority of people in England. In 2011/12, 51 per cent of the population took part in arts and cultural events. In recent years, the audience for arts and culture has been growing, partly as a result of sustained state investment.

For more detail on attendance, download the DCMS Taking Part report.

Around 15 per cent of our core funding goes to opera. This supports companies to create some of the best opera work in the world and means that the Royal Opera House can offer cheap tickets: their lowest price is £4, and 40 per cent of the tickets are under £40. The Arts Council's opera funding also supports other companies, including Streetwise Opera, the award winning organisation that runs weekly workshops in 11 homeless centres across England; and English Touring Opera, which brings excellent opera to theatres and audiences across the country.

The other 85 per cent of our funding goes to other artforms: dance, theatre, music, visual art, combined arts and literature, as well as libraries and museums.

Is most Arts Council England money spent on London? How about the rest of the country?

London is home to many artists and arts organisations. It is an international destination for culture, and provides a global platform for all UK artists and arts organisations. We fund a large number of organisations that are administratively based in London.

However, we know there are parts of the country where people's involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average. We want to increase the likelihood of people taking part in the arts, irrespective of where they live. A significant number of the London-based organisations that we fund are national in terms of influence and reach, or include touring companies. In our most recent of figures (2011/12), 118 London-based organisations (around 45 per cent of those we fund in London) were classified as principally touring companies, producing 9,589 performances outside the capital.
Download our annual submission report on regularly funded organisations
For more information on touring

How do children and young people benefit?

Our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts because the arts fuel children's curiosity and critical capacity.The evidence for this is extensive: the Culture and Sport Evidence (CASE) programme was set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2008, in collaboration with Arts Council England, English Heritage, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and Sport England. It has found that participation in the arts raises attainment and increases wellbeing. For example, participation in structured arts activities improved young people's cognitive abilities test scores by 16-19 per cent on average.

On behalf of the Department of Education we are investing more than £171 million of funding between 2012 - 2015 in a network of music education hubs across England which will ensure that every child aged 5-18 has the opportunity to sing and learn a musical instrument, and to perform as part of an ensemble or choir.

The Arts Council also supports children to engage with the arts early in their lives through Artsmark, which celebrates quality arts in schools. We also have a network of ten 'bridge organisations' which connect children and young people, schools and communities with local arts organisations, museums and libraries. We also fund In Harmony, a national programme that aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprivedcommunities, using the power and disciplines of orchestral music-making.

The creative and cultural sector is critical for young people's future employment prospects. We are prioritising job creating with our Creative Employment Programme, a scheme to support up to 6500 apprenticeships and paid internships across the arts and cultural sector.

Find out more about our work with children and young people
Find out more about In Harmony
Find out more about Music education hubs
Find out more about  the impact young people's participation in the arts has on their learning, achievement and skills

How do the cuts to public investment compare to what is happening in other countries?

There has been some variation in the approaches of different governments to arts and culture funding in the wake of the economic crisis. Other countries are making savings on their arts and culture budgets, but not on the same scale as the UK where local authority cuts have also impacted the sector. Ireland is the only other comparable country in which a 30 per cent cut is being made. 

Germany has actually increased its cultural budget by 8 per cent in 2012, on top of an extra 50 million euros granted in 2011. The culture budget is about £1.1 billion.

In the Netherlands the culture budget was cut by 20 per cent, although heritage was protected. A 15 per cent VAT duty was also placed on arts tickets and purchases. At least dozen organisations have closed including about 10 dance and theatre companies, four orchestras, two musical heritage foundations and a handful of non-profit art galleries.

France reduced its culture budget by 4.3 per cent in 2012 to around £6.5 billion. However, only £3.1 billion of this goes to museums, galleries or the arts.

Denmark spends around 1 per cent of total government spending on culture (£2.5 billion), although around 40 per cent is for public broadcasting. Libraries also take up a further 20 per cent.

In Canada, Canadian Heritage is the government department which has culture and the arts as one of its principle responsibilities. It receives $3.3 billion a year (£2.1 billion). The Canada Council received £110 million in 2011/12, a slight reduction from the year before.

In Australia, total spending on the arts when broadcasting is stripped away makes up less than 0.1 per cent of GDP. The Australia Council received an extra AU$50 million last year to pay for a reorganisation initiative.

Where can I find key facts and figures about the economic contribution of arts and culture?

For some key facts and figures download The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy an Arts Council-commissioned independent report conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).