The Evil Imp

The Corruption Question

Over the next few months arts organisations that are currently in receipt of ACE funding on a regular basis (RFOs) are writing applications to be included in the new ‘National Portfolio Funding Programme’.

Some will be successful and some will not. Some will have their funding go up and some will have their funding go down.

When we, here in TheLab™, ask ourselves the question about whether or not the funding process is corrupt what do we mean exactly?

The idea that large bags of money are being handed out to influence decision makers at ACE is a little bit on the ludicrous side. For one thing, where would anybody get that kind of money from? (they could always borrow it from Alistair Spalding! Ed!)

So, we’re not talking about illegality and bribes here, what we’re talking about is just how fair, balanced and ethical is the whole process?

Absolutely every organisation from the largest to the smallest has to re-apply for their funding for the years 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. From the Royal Opera House to Yorkshire Dance they have to make their case.

If you were a betting reader, just where would you put your money if the bet was “who could lose their funding?” between those two organisations.

Does anybody actually believe, even in their wildest fantasy, that ROH could possibly be thrown on the scrap heap by ACE? One receives just under £200,000 per year and the other gets over £28Million, we’ll let you guess which one is which.

If the process excludes ROH or other large scale organisation from the possibility of losing their funding then just how fair and ethical can the whole process really be? If the decision making process is front loaded towards the big fish and if they can’t lose then by definition the whole mechanism is unfair, unbalanced, unethical and, ultimately, it’s corrupt.

Asking ACE about such things is, of course, completely pointless because they will say exactly what you think they will say.

“Funding applications are assessed on their merits and unfortunately we are unable to fund all applications……” Yada Yada!

The game is rigged and there’s no way to win, for the moment at least.

When you’re discussing your company’s application to the funding monolith perhaps you could ask them just what the odds are of you losing your funding compared to the odds of the National Theatre losing theirs. We bet you all the money in our collective pocket that they won’t answer.

Sadly, we also bet that you won’t ask.