England’s arts community is witnessing results of the nation’s economic struggles. Arts Council England, the nation’s public cultural agency, yesterday announced job and budget reductions, including a 21% cut in payroll and a 50% slashing of property costs.
Specifically, that means the elimination of 117 positions, reducing the national agency’s workforce from 559.5 full-time posts to 442, and dropping the number of executive directors who support the agency’s executive director from eight to four.
The “new structure” goes into effect next July 1, according to the arts council’s release on its website. “The changes come as a result of the Government’s requirement – made as part of our settlement for 2011-15 – that we reduce our administrative costs, as applied to our grant in aid for the arts by the end of March 2015,” the release said.
Along with the staff cuts, the release lists the following key changes:
- leadership of artform and cultural policy expertise distributed geographically across the organization – everyone will have a local and national focus
- property costs will come down by 50 per cent through reductions in the size of offices
- major offices will be located in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol, plus some smaller local offices to keep the Arts Council close to the arts and cultural sector, and to local government
- five areas covering London, the South East, the South West, the Midlands and the North replace the Arts Council’s current regions and areas
Alan Davey, the agency’s chief executive, said: “These savings have been challenging to achieve, given our already pared down structure. There is an absolute need for the Arts Council to remain an intelligent investor, leading growth and ambition in an arts and cultural sector which contributes so much to the wealth, quality of life and reputation of our nation.
“We are protecting the relationship management and the artistic and cultural expertise we know our colleagues in the sector value but we must be pragmatic. We’ll do less and we’ll do it differently – but we’ll do it well.”
The Guardian newspaper, in an article on the agency’s reductions, noted, “…since the [government’s] spending round, ACE has also taken on responsibility for museums and libraries.” That indicates the agency is being ordered to burden more responsibility while reducing personnel, offices, and spending.