The 1970s and 1980s: Criticism of regionalism and funding controversies
The 1970s and early 1980s saw Arts Council funding come under attack for elitism and political bias, especially from the Conservative party minister Norman Tebbit. Funding was capped, and then cut. In 1987, Arts Council Chair William Rees-Mogg led a restructure of how funding was awarded, which cut the number of organisations receiving Arts Council funding by half. This was controversial, and led to protests from prominent figures in the arts. Film and theatre director Peter Hall resigned from the Arts Council as a result. However, during this period, the Arts Council began encouraging greater corporate sponsorship of the arts, to compensate for the lack of state funding.
By the mid-80s, more decision-making powers were in the hands of the regional arts boards, but critics complained that London still received the lion's share of available funding. A 1984 Arts Council policy document, titled, The Glory of The Garden, pointed out that it was 'inequitable that London, which holds about one-fifth of the population in England, should attract about half the Council's spending.' The Arts Council adopted a 10-year programme to address these inequalities, which was reviewed by the Wilding Report in 1989. The Wilding Report recommended that ten regional arts boards replace the regional arts associations, and a system of 'integrated planning and accountability' was put into place.