Just before the Christmas break further cuts were announced by the government which were then passed on to their departments which were then passed onto organisations like Arts Council England (ACE).
Over the next two years, ending in 2015, ACE will lose another £11.6Million of funding. Since the Big Bad has already cut itself to the bone by sacking staff members and reducing admin costs then the money is going to come directly from the National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs).
As you would expect from ACE they accepted the cuts without so much as a shrug and proclaimed, via a press release, that;
"Some organisations are also having to deal with Local Authority cuts and so the situation is extremely challenging."
Climbing a 60ft high wall with your hands tied behind your back is "challenging", being an inert funding body with all the vigour of an Egyptian mummy is business as usual for ACE, but we digress.
On the face of it the cuts are not that bad, totalling about 3% over the two year period. The last time a small cut was handed down to ACE by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) however they applied the cuts, as a simple percentage (6.9%), to each of their regularly funded organisations.
The more funding you received in the first place the more funding you lost.
At the time ACE claimed universal cuts were applied for no other reason than simple expediency. No sophisticated rationale, no detailed financial analysis, it was just easier that way.
If the new 3% cut was applied universally as a cash amount then each of the NPOs would lose just under £20,000 over the next two years. No big deal to the Royal Opera House or the National Theatre but a very big deal to a small or mid-scale organisation.
Applying the cuts as a percentage will, as before, mean the large scale lose more money than the small and mid-scale but the latter will still feel the loss more than the large scale.
Those of you following along will know that Catalyst Arts is the Big Plan™ to save the arts from public funding cuts by increasing levels of philanthropy. ACE and the DCMS are so confident in this plan that they pointedly refuse to answer any meaningful questions about the project.
It is however common knowledge that large scale arts institutions are much more likely to pull in significant sums of money from both sponsors and very wealthy people with a few million pounds burning a hole in their pockets.
This would suggest that the latest 3% cut given to ACE should be passed on to the largest of our arts institutions, leaving the small and mid-scale relatively untouched.
If ACE and the DCMS are so sure of their hugely expensive philanthropy plan then all the big players should have no problem replacing the £11Million (and change) between them when the axe eventually falls.
The Royal Opera House could cut nearly £800,000 per year from its own budget if they just paid their Chief Executive and Music Director a perfectly reasonable salary of £150,000 per year each.
No need to even hold a fund raiser. The English National Opera gets along just fine paying their "top staff" that kind of salary although they do have other problems when it comes to paying people properly.
Don't You Dare
As is so often the case with ACE, funding cuts tend to highlight the weaknesses in their overall funding strategy. A complete lack of confidence in one grand plan manifests itself as panic stricken decisions taken in response to the government of the day imposing its twisted will upon them.
Common sense dictates that those with the most should take on a bigger share of the cuts, however small the percentage might be over the long term. The large scale have plenty of fat they can trim.
Doing anything else only serves to illustrate that Catalyst Arts is a bad joke and that ACE is a rudderless ship in dire need of a new captain before it finally runs aground.