Laura Sharman 04 February 2022

Council spending on the arts has halved since 2010

Council spending on the arts has halved since 2010 image
Image: Tyler Olson / Shutterstock.com

Local authority expenditure on cultural services has fallen by 50% across England since 2009-2010, according to new research.

The Public Campaign for the Arts found spending on public libraries, entertainment venues, museums, galleries and recreation facilities by councils has dropped to £59.90 per person per year, from £118.93 just over a decade ago.

The research has been published after the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead announced it is planning to cut arts funding by 100%. If approved, this would mean £0 was allocated to the arts for the first time in living memory.

Former prime minister Theresa May has joined calls urging councillors to ‘reconsider their position'.

Figures show that in 2009-10, the council was spending £131.75 per person per year for cultural services, but this had fallen by 69% to just £41.42 last year.

Cllr Andrew Johnson, the council leader, said: 'While the borough overall is an affluent area, we have among the very lowest council tax in England outside of London, which places financial pressure on the council, especially with respect to areas of discretionary, non-statutory spend. There are also cost pressures in adults and children’s services.'

Cllr Johnson added that the council ran a consultation on the 2022/23 budget that closed on Monday 31 January and all feedback will be considered before a final decision is made.

Jack Gamble, director of the Public Campaign for the Arts, said: ‘The arts are not a luxury – they provide vital benefits to our lives and communities. We appreciate the financial pressures that local councils are under, partly due to cuts from national government since 2010, but sacrificing our cultural services is not the answer.

’We have to find a way to keep funding them alongside other services – it shouldn’t be an either/or.’

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