Wide disparity in Yorkshire communities receiving Arts Council England Project Grants

Culture organisations in Yorkshire faced wide levels of disparity in the amount of public funds they received from Arts Council England last year, according to new analysis.

Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Around 16p was received per person of Arts Council England Project Grants in Selby last year - among the least in England. Picture: Gary Longbottom.
Around 16p was received per person of Arts Council England Project Grants in Selby last year - among the least in England. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

Arts Council England (ACE) gives out lottery money to support museums, libraries, artists and arts groups across the country through applications to its Project Grants.

But with figures showing some areas get much more cash than others, think tank the Fabian Society says public arts funding should be levelled up to help an industry which has since been brought to the brink by Covid-19.

Yorkshire and the Humber received £9,401,667 in Project Grants funding by ACE in 2019-20.

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Laura Dyer, Art Council England's deputy chief executive for places and engagement.

On average, that equated to £1.75 per person in Yorkshire, the third-highest of England's nine regions - London got the most (£2.94), while the West Midlands saw the least (£1.20).

However, this ranges in the region from £4.10 in the Craven district of North Yorkshire - among the highest in the country - to 16p in nearby Selby - among the least in England.

And while Bradford Council got £1.87 million - £3.47 per person, again among the most in England - Rotherham's grants worked out at 49p per person.

Nationally, £97.9 million was handed out through the scheme last year – an average of £1.74 per person - says the analysis from Press Association's RADAR (Reporters And Data And Robots) department.

The fund focuses on smaller independent organisations and individuals, with grants ranging from £1,000 to £100,000.

Ben Cooper, researcher at the Labour Party-affiliated Fabian Society, said the figures showed centralised public arts funding is “not working, and is holding places back”.

He added: “There is a long-standing crisis in funding that has left community arts and culture extremely vulnerable to lockdown, especially outside London.

“The sector is critical to the Government’s levelling up agenda, especially as the country seeks to rebuild post-Covid.

“But if it’s going to thrive, it needs fairer National Lottery funding across England and devolution of power so local areas can determine how to repair the damage.”

Project Grants, which are given in response to applications, are one of three main sources of Arts Council funding, which draw on a mixture of lottery and taxpayer money.

A report published earlier this year by the group also called for the Government to require ACE to distribute National Lottery money for the arts equally across regions by 2025.

The arts sector has been hit hard by the pandemic, with continued social distancing measures placed on live music venues, theatres and galleries making any recovery more difficult.

ACE said many funding recipients based in London are national organisations which work and tour in other areas.

Laura Dyer, the body's deputy chief executive for places and engagement, said ACE wants its investment "to reach every community across the country".

She said: "This commitment is at the core of our new 10-year strategy, Let’s Create, through which we’ll continue to address the historic imbalance in funding."

Since 2018, it has invested 75 per cent of its overall National Lottery budget outside London, while 75 per cent of Project Grants have also gone outside the capital, according to Ms Dyer.

She added: "We are also working in close partnership with local authorities, both nationally and locally, to bring our expertise alongside their local knowledge to support investment in culture.”

Full amount of Project Grants funding by ACE to local authority areas in Yorkshire, followed by the per person equivalent:

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council - £130,824, 53p per person

Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council - £313,882, £1.48 per person

Kirklees Metropolitan Council - £492,656, £1.12 per person

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council - £129,938, 49p per person

Bradford Municipal District Council - £1.87 million, £3.47 per person – among the most in England

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council - £238,907, 77p per person

Leeds City Council - £2.15 million, £2.71 per person

Sheffield City Council - £1.22 million, £2.09 per person

Wakefield Council - £264,205, 76p per person

East Riding of Yorkshire Council - £259,699, 76p per person

Harrogate Borough Council - £146,686, 91p per person

Hambleton District Council - £127,307, £1.39 per person

Richmondshire District Council - £54,520, £1.01 per person

Ryedale District Council - £143,941, £2.60 per person

Scarborough Borough Council - £165,263, £1.52 per person

Selby District Council - £14,537, 16p per person – among the least in England.

Hull City Council - £687,144, £2.65 per person

City of York Council - £758,116, £3.60 per person – among the most in England

Craven District Council - £234,042, £4.10 per person - among the most in England