East London winners as Arts Council revises funding

The Boy On The Swing, Arcola Theatre. Photo: Martin Shippen

Art organisations across east London have done better than groups elsewhere in the country under the new Arts Council funding scheme announced this week.

But more than two hundred previously funded art groups around the country have lost Arts Council financial support as a result of the new funding arrangements announced on Wednesday.

While some art organisations have been successful with increases up to double their original amount, others have been left with no option other than shutting down.

As a hotspot for artistic diversity and creativity, east London art organizations were at the forefront of risk or great success as the cuts and funding decisions panned out.

The council announced that 695 organisations will be funded from 2012 to 2015 by the council, down from 849, with 110 successful new groups.

Although not all organisations across east London were granted funding by the council, the majority located in the area have been given an increase of support or have not been badly affected.

A spokeswoman for WW Gallery, in Hackney,  said that although they do not receive regular funding from the Arts council, various individual projects which have been backed were not affected by the new criteria.

Among the biggest winners was the Arcola Theatre in Dalston, which had a 100 per cent rise. The theatre said: “After 10 years of working on a shoestring to deliver excellent work, this grant will allow us to do further improve the quality and consistency of our work and to reach more people.”

Whitechapel Gallery, which was initially cut by 6.9 per cent, accounting to an approximately £80 000 loss, was set to receive a 15 per cent increase. Iwona Blazwick, the director of the gallery, said: “The sustained and valued support of the Arts Council England in these challenging times will ensure that the Gallery builds on its important work as a touchstone for art internationally; provide art programmes for over 3,000 children and young people each year; and contribute to the growth of the world’s most vibrant cultural quarter.”

The Drawing Room, Artists Studio and Gallery in Hackney, is one of the newly funded organisations. A spokesperson of the organisation said: “We are thrilled to become a core funded organisation; we acknowledge the support of countless artists who have helped build our reputation and we are delighted to receive the endorsement of the Arts Council.”

The council’s statement said it would reduce grant in aid budget and aim to cut ‘strategically’ rather than providing ‘equal cuts for all’. The council promised to “focus on excellent organisations and exceptional individual talent, with decisions shaped by 10-year vision for arts.”

Liz Forgan, chair of Arts Council England, said: “This is about a resilient future for the arts in England. We have taken the brave path of strategic choices which has meant some painful decisions, and it is with great regret that we have had to cease funding some good organisations.”

Alan Davey, chief executive, added: “After a thorough process, we believe we have achieved a balance of continuity and change, and of local and national. And we’ve enabled artists and arts organisations to continue to create the great art from which so much springs. This is a collection of decisions that will mean the arts will not retreat from the important part they play in our national life.”

£18million of extra lottery money will be given to touring companies, while £10.5m will be targeted at work with children and young people to ensure continuation of vital educational work.

Davey added: “But we do regret that we have been unable to fund perfectly good organisations, and I know this will be taken hard by those affected.”

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