What next for the arts?

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Following the announcement of cuts to arts funding in the Spending Review, those in the industry have been digesting the figures and trying to assess what impact they will have.

Arts Council England (ACE) - which distributes money to hundreds of arts venues, theatre groups and galleries - is having its budget cut by almost 30%. It has been asked to ensure that funding for arts organisations is not cut by more than 15% over the next four years.

The Arts Council predicts the cut to its budget will have "a significant impact on the cultural life of the country".

Here, three people from the arts industry respond to Wednesday's announcements.

Julia Fawcett - chief executive of The Lowry, Salford

I think that some will say that the Spending Review was not as tough for the sector as had been feared - and I think they would be wrong. The devil is in the details.

The cuts for the Arts Council and local authorities will inevitably mean that what lies ahead is going to be extremely painful for organisations large and small, and the audiences that currently enjoy a very vibrant and very successful sector.

Inevitably we will have to question the breadth and the scope of the work that we can provide.

We are a large organisation and we do have a slightly different model in that our public funding from two key sources - the local authority and the Arts Council, represents less than 15% of our total income.

But it's a crucial element of income that supports work in our theatres and galleries, and critically the work we develop in local communities.

You're not going to find too many people who would disagree with the notion that the arts needs to be more entrepreneurial.

In the case of the Lowry for every £1 of public funding we receive we generate £7 of income to support our activities.

My big question from today is what impact the cuts to the ACE and local authorities will have to the sector but critically what impact it's going to have outside the capital. In my view the regions will suffer particularly.

The challenge for all of us is going to be maintaining the quality of the work that we do. In my view, it's got to come though collaboration with partners both inside the arts sector and beyond.

Marcus Romer, artistic director of Pilot Theatre, York

The big issue which I haven't digested yet is the 7% year-on-year cuts for local authorities and that's the real hidden story.

The arts are non-statutory. There are certain things local authorities have to fund - but the arts are non-statutory and will be on the front line of where those cuts are going to fall.

As a touring organisation we visit a lot of organisations who are primarily funded by the local authority - so there will be knock-on effects on the touring landscape. It isn't just about being able to rearrange a few deck chairs.

We are not going to try and do the same thing as we've done with less resources. We are going to carry on making the best work we can.

Our audiences are often younger people. If we haven't got resources like ticket deals for under-26s then who is going to be the audience?

At this stage we're going ahead with all our commissions. I've got to put all things into place now, what we can't do is suddenly stop and put the brakes on, because if we do that we're all going to be looking over the edge of the cliff, and there's going to be nothing beyond it.

Louise de Winter, director of the National Campaign for the Arts

It's a rum day when cuts of 15% can now be greeted with some measure of relief. We're not saying these cuts won't hurt, but they will be more manageable than was previously feared.

It appears that the Government has listened to the warnings from senior figures in the cultural sector about the damage that would be sustained by the creative industries by a higher level of cut, and that the Chancellor recognises the value that the cultural and creative sector makes to the economy.

However, Arts Council England has received an overall budget cut of nearly 30% and has to make a 50% cut in their administrative costs, so further savings still have to be sought elsewhere in the budget.

Coupled with the fact that ACE may be expected to take on additional responsibilities and functions following the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and UK Film Council, we are concerned how this might impact on the arts overall.

Arts organisations will also have to take into consideration the impact of the higher level of cuts to local authority budgets of 28%.

As non-statutory services, they will be affected by the squeeze felt by local authorities as they simultaneously have their budgets slashed and are prevented from raising extra revenue through the Council Tax.

We are concerned that this impact will fall greatest on the smaller organisations, particularly in the regions and rural areas.

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