Friday, 23 July 2010

Arts Organisations Gnawing Off Their Legs

The entire country is running around shouting ‘Cuts’ at the moment. This isn’t surprising given every pronouncement from the Government. There is an atmosphere of fear where ever I go.

But everybody rushing around is also creating untenable Alice in Wonderland situations. Here’s an example from the Arts.

Very large organisations will be safe - hugely have to cut back I suspect; but the likes of the large national organisations or large regional organisations will not be allowed to close. (Just like major banks they’re ‘too big to fail’.) But the medium scale are the ones in danger; here revenue support may be in the tens of thousands, Cuts in these grants will quickly add up, but the demise of such organisations won’t shake the country - more’s the pity.

West Midlands regional organisations have been told by ACE (and I suspect this is national) that they should expect cuts for two years, but in the third year they should expect less organisations to be funded . . . That is, some organisations won’t get any revenue funding at all. There is a two-year transition, and organisations must draw up three-year plans that show how they will survive.

Birmingham City Council is also requesting three-year business plans.

It doesn’t take too much to see that an organisation will have to put in a plan that contains an element of ACE revenue support with an alternative of NO ACE revenue support.

In order to obtain funding, organisations will have to show how they can survive without ACE funding. The better the plan, the more likely they are to receive funding. If they can show they can exist well (albeit reduced) without subsidy, why would anyone want to subsidise them? If they show they can’t, then they’ll be seen as unrealistically expecting to operate with a deficit or not able to operate in the real world . . . So why would anyone want to subsidise them? If they show they can exist with no ACE funding with a good plan, then Birmingham City Council will be encouraged to fund them, but ACE encouraged to cut them.

In the good old days, BCC had a good working relationship with ACE; will this go, or will they collude?

Animals forced to gnaw off their own legs when caught in cruel animal traps come to mind.

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