Friday, 20 March 2015

Theatre Thoughts: Arts Funding

Thinking about Theatre...

I was told by a contact a couple of months ago that one of the reasons new writing flourished in the mid-nineties was due to massive amounts of government investment in the arts, for companies and theatres to help produce and promote new works. I've been desperately trying to find figures for this but had no success so far - can anyone help?!

What I have found, though, has been interesting: the two images below show the GVA of the Creative Industries. (GVA stands for Gross Value Added, and means the measure of the value of the goods and services produced in an industry or sector) 'Music and the Visual & Performing Arts' is the fifth most valuable resource in this sector, in the chart shown below from 2007, which, given we were in the middle of the recession at that time, is pretty good going, and is only topped by output that can be consumed in our homes (TV, Radio, Computer Games, etc...)


Source: gov.co.uk

This second image is from a similar report, published in January 2015, showing the same GVA and their contributions between 2008-2013. While the same sector does not have the same impact as, say, IT, we can still see that there is a massive contribution to the economy through these areas (Music, Visual & Performing Arts)

Source: gov.co.uk

With the recent announcement of the final Budget before the General Election stating that an extra £8.9million will be given to the cultural industries across Britain (if the Conservatives win! Labour are apparently planning cuts to the arts budget!) this can only help artists and the economy. In my opinion it's not enough, but hey ho, we're trying to reduce the deficit, so fair enough!

Now what I need is to know how much the government has spent on the arts. If they are giving an extra £8.9million, what is this on top of? How much, during their time in government, have they spent on the arts and culture (not including the Olympics - I realised during my research that this was going to skew the results hugely!), and specifically Theatres.

I also want to know how much the government spent during the 1990's on arts and culture, compared with today. If, as my source suggested, there were huge boosts to new writing producing theatres during the '90's, it begs the question then, "why, during this time of recession and austerity, is new writing still so popular?"

P.S. Thank you to Sarah Dunn for the links to these documents!

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