England Braces for Severe Cuts in Arts Funding

Arts Council England announces a 6.9% cut next year.

LONDON -- Funding for the arts in England will be slashed by 6.9% next year, and everyone who gets cash now will have to fight for their individual slices next year.

Arts Council England said Tuesday that all of its 844 regularly funded organizations, such as the English National Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Opera House, will have to reapply for funding. And some won't be getting any.

The cuts come on the back of budget reductions outlined by the U.K. government in last week's Comprehensive Spending Review.

ACE warned that the cuts would be swift and savage, pointing out that nearly 80% of them are expected to be made during the first two years of the four-year Spending Review.

ACE is under orders to chop its grant-in-aid funding by 29.6% over four years, some £457 million ($725 million) of the body's budget. Of that, ACE must cut 14.9% of the money available to regularly funded groups by 2014-15 while also cutting its own administration costs by half from $34.9 million to $17.4 million.

But ACE said most of the cuts would be made at organizations "whose primary purpose is not arts creation or performance."

For example, the budget for youth organization Creativity, Culture & Education will have its budget halved from $60.3 million to $30.1 million by 2011-12.

"These are severe cuts, made worse by the fact that around 80% of them have to come in the first two years of the settlement," ACE chairwoman Liz Forgan said. "We are determined to lead the arts through this tough period."