£19Million Hole

panta rei dans lullaby

Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'

Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.

June 2nd, 2016

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Updated : 10.34 am 26 May 2010, additional information from DCMS and ACE.
Updated : 6.18pm 25 May 2010, additional information from ACE.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport* (DCMS) has instructed Arts Council England (ACE) to make £19 Million in savings over the current financial year.

ACE immediately cried foul because other departments within the DCMS were only required to cut 3% and ACE was told to cut 4%. In a press release, from May 24th, Chair of ACE Liz Forgan said;

"We all knew this year would be tough. We do not understand why we have received a higher percentage cut than other DCMS funded bodies."

A quick phone call to the DCMS today cleared that up with a spokesperson telling Article19 that ACE has, what they describe as, "historical reserves" to tap into to the tune of £18Million so basically ACE could stomach a larger cut than everybody else.

ACE's communications people told Article19 however that many other DCMS funded bodies have reserves and they have not been requested to make additional cuts to their budgets.

During a follow up phone call the DCMS admitted that yes, all other organisations that come under their funding umbrella, like museums, have the same kind of reserves but these reserves are not from the same source.

DCMS say that ACE's reserves are government money and a museum's reserves (their example) would be derived from private donations and that the people making these donations would not want their money being used to plug shortfalls in government money.

The DCMS offered no evidence of the specific intent of individual museum donors and what they would expect their donations to be used for.

ACE disputes the assertion that their reserves are solely derived from government money and they also pointed out that their Trustees and the Charity Commission may take the same position as the DCMS. Using the reserves to make up central funding shortfalls is not what they should be used for.

DCMS is trying to cut £88Million from its' overall budget which includes shedding just £27Million from the more than £9.2Billion Olympics budget (which the government is on the hook for to the tune of £5.8Billion).

Although ACE mention their reserves in the press release they issued it seems curious that Ms Forgan did not simply ask the DCMS herself why the funding cuts were more excessive for the arts monolith. Again ACE informed us that the DCMS only officially told them the level of their cuts today, via a letter, and that press releases, from DCMS, went out yesterday evening after 6pm.

A common tactic when you don't want the press to pay too much attention to something is to "dump it out with the trash" either late at night or on a Friday because, so the theory goes, nobody is paying any attention and print deadline's have been missed.

ACE has told us that permission to use their reserves is not as straight forward as receiving permission from the DCMS alone. Since ACE holds charitable status they also need permission from their board of trustees and the Charities Commission before being allowed to use the funds.

The DCMS have confirmed to Article19 that if and when ACE asks to use some of their reserves to plug the funding hole then this permission will be given although it is not solely their decision to make. ACE have told us that they have made repeated requests to use these reserves in the past and these requests have always been denied.

Should the required permission and approval not be given by all concerned then DCMS say that the additional 1% (£5Million) funding cut still stands, reserves or no reserves.

ACE say that discussions about specifics with regard to the funding cuts are ongoing.

The new UK coalition government will be making changes as to how money from the National Lottery will be distributed among good causes. The DCMS anticipates an increase in funding of approximately £50Million by 2012/2013 for the arts which, should the increase actually materialise, wipe out the current cuts. There is no guarantee however that the government will not cut ACE's funding further over the next 12 months.

A complete spending review from the government is due this autumn

ACE expects to tell all RFO (Regularly Funded Organsisations) that will receive cuts to their funding by June 22nd at the latest.

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