3 June 2014

Devoted And Disgruntled: Why Is Funding The Arts Better For Everyone?

Council Chamber, Battersea Arts Centre


This is an invitation to come and help answer this question.

The next General Election is now under a year away (7 May 2015). Campaigns are being planned and policy priorities decided. For those of us passionate about the arts, it would be fantastic if a good level of sustained investment in the arts could be a vote winning policy for any political party. But is it? Are politicians convinced that funding the arts benefits the country and, even if they are, will they make it a prominent feature of an election campaign? Would it win them any votes?

If you work in the arts, or are a passionate audience member, you can probably  see and feel the difference art makes: you have watched audiences emerge from a play, beaming or thoughtful or moved to tears; you have witnessed the work of arts education departments who enable young people to have their first encounter of a concert, ballet, or museum, and see how their worlds are changed for the better. You have gone to a gallery, an opera, read a poem that enables you to understand how it feels to be someone different, to see the world through others' eyes, to change your perspective.

You may also know some things about money in the arts: how much can be made to happen on relatively little; how public subsidy can leverage huge amounts of additional funding from other sources; what arts organisations give back to the economy in tax receipts, tourism and related industries, amounts that far exceed the state subsidy invested in the first place. And you may also know how the UK arts are respected around the world and how much income international touring brings in. You might also know what happens when money isn’t there: the artistic risks that aren’t taken; the jobs that can’t be created; the productions, exhibitions and art that can’t be made and shared with communities; the audiences that can’t be reached.

So as Party Conference season approaches and campaigns for the next General Election are formed, we’d like to pool our collective thinking power and write a clear, comprehensive document about why funding the arts is better for everyone and should be a central part of every party’s election campaign. We think this is an issue that stretches beyond arts subsidy specifically and into a wide range of government departments: the contribution of the arts to education in schools; how the creative industries are the fasting growing sector in the economy; the arts’ function in relation to health and wellbeing etc. We want to incorporate as diverse a range of viewpoints as possible, so whether you’re the CEO of a major arts venue, an artist struggling to get programmed, someone who would love to work in the arts but can’t get a break, a passionate audience member, someone who thinks the arts are a waste of money, or a politician working on a campaign: we need you.

We’ll be meeting for a day to think, talk and work. By the end of the day we will have written a document (or maybe documents) that we can hand over to the political parties. We’d love you to come armed with any statistics, evidence, anecdotes or arguments that you feel are significant and important. If you can’t be there but have views or information you’d like to be discussed, send us a message and we'll do our best to include them (but being there is the only way to be sure they will).

We hope to see you there.

Booking for this event has now closed.