Thomas Bridge 24 July 2014

Councils urged to share arts and culture services

Councils should find alternative ways to sustain local arts and culture by co-operating with other town halls, a report claims.

According to think tank the New Local Government Network (NLGN), town halls should now look to share services such as libraries and theatres as funding cuts are handed down to local cultural sites.

On with the show also pushes local authorities to put cultural organisations out to a charitable trust or a similar arm’s length arrangement where alternative sources of funding might be more accessible.

The NLGN said councils should examine whether arts and cultural organisations can align their outcomes with alternative local priorities – such as health and wellbeing – in order to maximise their impact and diversify income streams.

Figures suggest council funding for the arts and culture has fallen by 19% in the last three years.

Findings from the report suggest that while councils still recognise and champion the value of arts and culture to their communities, they struggle to provide support via traditional grant giving channels.

Writing in the study, Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: ‘Without local government’s commitment, there is no great art and culture for everyone.

‘We recently announced our investment across England during 2015 to 2018 and we want to talk to local government about how we and they can work together over this period.

‘Local government has a history of entrepreneurialism and innovation that I think will be at the heart of the effort to sustain our cultural sector. Already councils are looking at what new partnerships can bring, new delivery models, and different ways of engaging communities.’

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