Venues around Britain going dark: ACE funding debacle continues

The survival of local arts programmes is vital, but their future is uncertain in light of funding cuts.

Carly Horne
14th February 2023
Image Credit: Flickr
Oldham Coliseum is the latest arts venue to face closure following cuts to funding from Arts Council England (ACE), despite Oldham being identified as a key area in the Government's 'Levelling Up' initiative.

Oldham Coliseum had previously announced that all events taking place after March will be cancelled, with a 100% cut in ACE funding meaning the venue has been left with a funding gap of £2 million. And while Arts Council England has reportedly set aside £1.8 million for the arts in Oldham alone - many creatives in the area are set to be left uncertain of what the future holds for them.

This theme of "difficult decisions" being made not only applies in the North, but has brought devastation to arts organisations across the country.

At the start of the year, Glyndebourne announced the cancellation of its annual opera tour, the Glyndebourne Tour, citing a reduction in funding as the trigger for this decision. While Glyndebourne were successful in their funding application to ACE, they have seen their usual £1.6 million reduced to £800,000.

Important cultural institutions will be going dark - even those in areas the Government claims to want to promote opportunities in

The Glyndebourne Tour brought world-class opera to regions who often had no major opera company of their own. Last year, the Tour took productions of La Bohème and The Marriage of Figaro around the country. Additionally, this funding reduction will leave Glyndebourne reduced in their capacity to conduct engagement and education work.

While creating more cultural opportunities outside of the South is no bad thing, the result of doing this through 'levelling up' means that important cultural institutions will be going dark - even those in areas the Government claims to want to promote opportunities in.

Naturally, this has led to London-based creatives and venues facing some of the same consequences as their Northern counterparts.

The Hampstead Theatre, which has supported past emerging talent such as Harold Pinter, and the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden are among London-based venues which have had Arts Council England funding removed in its entirety. The English National Opera was originally to have its funding cut too, however has since been granted £11.46 million to sustain its work in London for another year. However, Arts Council England hopes it will use its reprieve to establish a base outside of London - Manchester has been suggested as an alternative.

Despite being identified as one of the Government's 'Priority Places', the North East has received the lowest investment increase outside of London

The Royal Opera House, National Theatre and the Southbank Centre have seen a reduction in funding, and these prestigious institutions will face new challenges as a result.

As for the North East, 'levelling up' efforts seem to have missed the mark, as the region has received the lowest investment increase outside of London, despite being identified as one of the Government's 'Priority Places'.

Those in Newcastle to retain National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status include: Northern Stage; Live Theatre; Seven Stories and New Writing North. Company of Others will receive NPO status for the first time in the 2023-2026 Investment Programme.

Regardless, it seems as though every region has lost out in this cycle of the Investment Programme in one way or another. With the arts industry already feeling the pressure from reduced funding and navigating the industry post-pandemic, it seems these cuts couldn't have come at a worse time.

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