Finally, the funding cuts have been announced, and the arts have not fared as badly as they could have done. There has been a 30% cut in grants to the Arts Council England (ACE), which is not as drastic as the expected or anticipated 40% that would have been drastically disabling.
The museums in general have got off reasonably lightly with a small 15% cut in funding, which means that they can still maintain mostly a free entrance programme. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, commented, “the light 15%cuts are a great affirmation of the role museums play in society.”
The “dismaying” 30% cuts to the ACE will have a knock-on effect to many small projects that are currently operating. For example, a friend of mine used to work in the Tate, providing a small art space environment for children to be creative in. The funding for that is now cut and she can no longer continue with the project. ACE has been informed it must cut its own running costs by 50%, something that they deem impossible.
The Minister for Culture, Jeremy Hunt, has commented, “we have had to prioritise, and we have decided to prioritise arts organisations that have a regular relationship with the Arts Council.” He continues, “it is going to be painful, but massively better than it could have been. I have tried to maintain a condition for long term stability that does not damage the core.”
Women will be forced out unless they are able to keep reaffirming themselves
Unfortunately, around 100 arts projects will have their funding cut, leaving a somewhat bleak prospect for the more minor elements to the arts world.
Another similar, although unrelated, problem is the under representation of women in the art world. It is a tough environment for women. Louise Bourgeois commented that women will be forced out unless they are able to keep reaffirming themselves.
They will be pushed out unless they refuse to be. There have been galleries springing up, however, that only represent female artists, such as that owned by one of Britain’s most unusual art collectors, Valeria Napoleone.
Her sole aim is to collect the work of women whom she considers exceptional. She then uses her power and expertise to help promote and protect female artists. She says this was crystallised in the installation piece shown at the Frieze fairs by the Swedish artist Annika Strom, called “Ten embarrassed men”. It consisted of ten men walking around the Fair in a huddled group, all dressed in white shirts, all looking distinctly uncomfortable and embarrassed. It was commissioned as a comment on the sidelining of women in the art world, and how under-represented female artists are.
However, it is important to remember that the British arts world is not unique in facing these problems. Women are still paid less on average than men in all sectors and, across the country, other important social programmes are facing budget cuts. Truly great artists will continue to thrive whatever conditions are thrown at them, and this is something we should be grateful for.