This morning Arts Council NI released the details of their 2015/6 grants to organisations along with the 2014/5 grants for comparison. Overall there is a year on year drop of 6.2% in funding from ACNI.
(For reference, the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure – which funds ACNI as an arm’s length body – lost 10% of its budget for the next financial year.)
This post summaries the funding changes.
I’ve added columns to the original ACNI information to show the actual change and the percentage change between 2014/5 and 2015/6, and grouped the organisations into categories (to show organisations losing funding that is likely to equate to at least half or a whole member of staff).
The median grant is £66,600 and the overall distribution of grants shows that half of the bodies receive less than £75,000 and account for just 16.5% of the pot of funding.
- 1 new organisation received a grant – East Belfast Partnership
- 9 organisations were successful in receiving a larger grant this year: Ulster Association of Youth Drama and Photo Worlds North/Source Magazine more than doubled their 2014/5 funding.
In total, just under £320k of additional funding was allocated.
Over £900k of funding was withdrawn from these 25 organisations.
Of the larger bodies:
- NI Opera was the only organisation that received more than £250k that comes away with more funding in 2015/6.
- The Ulster Orchestra (which receives the largest ACNI grant) and the Grand Opera House both lose £100k while The Lyric Theatre and MAC both lose £50k.
ACNI’s Chief Executive Roisin McDonough summarised the cuts:
In response to the resources now available to us, we have removed six organisations from the Annual Funding Programme. We did this with great reluctance and we would, under any other circumstances have wished to continue to support them. We have also reduced funding to umbrella bodies, in order to protect front-line services, and have reduced funding for a number of arts venues because, unlike the rest of the arts sector, they have the capacity to generate additional income through programming and ticketing.
However, the impact of these cuts is not limited to these organisations as it will be felt across the sector and the wider community. The Arts Council will also make savings for the second year running. This year £244,000 will be saved cross our own staffing and overheads. After all of these cuts have been made what we are left with is a smaller sector, working with reduced income and a reduced capacity to deliver great arts for all.
This is not the end of the story; we know the cuts to public spending may bite deeper in the future but we hope that in taking difficult decisions this year we have protected the core elements of each art form, so that in better times they will be able to grow again.
As Adam pointed out last year, only around one thousandth of the NI block grant is allocated to DCAL, and around a tenth of that reaches the Arts Council.
While the sums are significant to the organisations benefiting – allowing them to introduce new audiences and curate programmes that enrich society – they are a trifle when compared with the the NI Executive budget.