THE head of the Arts Council says he fears for the future of the arts outside London, ahead of fresh funding cuts totalling £25m.
Sir Peter Bazalgette said decisions loomed on which of 696 ‘National Portfolio Organisations’ - including six in Bradford - will continue to receive cash from next year.
Overall funding will plunge by £25m, despite the Arts Council switching cash from the national lottery to ease some of the pain of steep Government cuts.
Meanwhile, local authorities, the main funder of arts organisations and projects, faced many more years of their own cuts, Sir Peter said.
Giving evidence to an inquiry by MPs, he warned: “The area I’m most concerned about is outside London
“It’s more difficult to raise money philanthropically and many arts institutions are co-funded with local authorities. Those authorities are, in parallel, under great spending pressure.
“Reductions to local authority funding will go on for another three or four years. There’s a possibility that we will lose a very large slug of arts funding – it’s a great concern.”
A total of 696 organisations are receiving £1bn from the Arts Council between 2012 and 2015, including six in Bradford:
* Mind The Gap - England's largest learning disability theatre company.
* Theatre In The Mill - based at the University of Bradford.
* Artworks – which works with professional artists to develop projects.
* Impressions Gallery - a leading venue for photography.
* Kala Sangam - a South Asian arts company, particularly dance and music.
* Freedom Studios – which creates theatre “in response to political and cultural worldwide events”.
Groups have been told they must show they are “distinct and complementary” to avoid being struck off the funding list, on July 1.
But Sir Peter added: “We are confident that, when we come out of where we are, we will have preserved most of that portfolio. That will be quite an achievement.”
The inquiry, by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, has been set up to explore growing protests that London grabs too much of the shrinking pot.
But Sir Peter told MPs he was shifting cash to the regions, which now received 70 per cent of funds – up from 60 per cent over most of the period since 1995.
He also praised Bradford City Council’s efforts to promote the arts, having met Councillor Susan Hinchliffe, Cabinet member for employment, on a recent visit.
Sir Peter said: “It’s much easier for us if there is a councillor championing arts and culture and Councillor Hinchcliffe is doing that.”
Later, arts minister Ed Vaizey was asked about fresh fears for the future of the National Media Museum – less than a year after ministers declared it had been “saved”.
But he replied: “I don’t have an update at the moment. I have been keen to get up to date, over the last two days, but have failed to do that.”