Thursday, 31 March 2011

litfest, Storey Gallery and folly lose Arts Council funding

Lancaster's long-running litfest, the Storey Gallery, the digital arts organisation Folly and LUDUS Dance are among the high profile victims of cuts in funding by Arts Council England, which unveiled its new National portfolio of funded organisations earlier this week.

Neither The Storey Gallery, litfest - one of the oldest literature organisations in the country - or Folly will be supported by the Arts Council for the next three years, with funding ending in April 2012, giving them 12 months to secure alternative income.

LUDUS Dance has also had its budget cut for the next three years by over 60 per cent.

Other local arts organisations such as The Dukes have also had their budgets cut, but Morecambe-based More Music and Lancaster University's Nuffield Theatre have been awarded increased funding.

The Arts Council funding cuts could bring further bad news for the most affected organisations, as funding by other entities, such as Lancaster City and Lancashire County Council, is often based on the level of Arts Council support they are given.

In a short statement, litfest director Andy Darby said he was "disappointed" that Arts Council England did not support their application to be a part of their new "National Portfolio" of arts organisations.

"This we take to be a reflection of the changed priorities and demands being made of and by Arts Council England," he commented, "and not a judgement regarding the value locally of our work.

"We intend to continue to work with organisations across the sector through the Lancaster Arts Partnership to deliver excellent arts experiences for the people of Lancaster and beyond."

Overall, funding changes mean the Arts Council has completely withdrawn support for 23 arts organisations in the North West, with Lancaster hard hit - but 15 organisations in the region are being offered portfolio funding for the first time.

Commneting on its funding withdrawal, the folly Board of Trustees and Chief Executive, Taylor Nuttall also said he was disappointed by the Arts Council decision.

"We wish to express our commisserations to our fellow arts sector colleagues who were unsuccessful and also our conratulations to those that were in this process," he said. " The coming year will be one of readjustment and strategic development in the sector."

Previously regarded by the Arts Council as a "leading digital arts organisation", it was supported to deliver a high quality programme of creative digital media work. Instead of funding folly, the Arts Council, which says it is is "building on the North West's strength in digital arts", is continuing to support similar organisations such as FACT in Liverpool and in Cornerhouse in Manchester, established leaders in the field of digital and media arts "both of which form part of the national backbone of digital arts organisations.

"There is also increased investment in FutureEverything in Manchester, as well as portfolio funding for the first time for Octopus in Barrow and Manchester Craft and Design Limited who all demonstrate how those new technologies can further artform and market development."

The Dukes, which has been very successful over the last two years, are surprized by the funding cut, after it effectively re-invented itself after a major Arts Council cut three years ago, and staging nore events than ever before last year.

"The quality of our work has risen dramatically as has our earned income," they say. "Like any other arts organisation receiving a cut, we now have to consider a measured response.

"Whilst The Dukes’ situation is difficult, we are even more concerned for the broader picture in Lancaster.  Colleagues at Ludus Dance, Litfest, The Storey Gallery and folly have all received bad news and we wish them well."

Local Arts Funding in Detail

The Dukes has a grant of £254,714 in 2011/2012, and the same for 2012/13, £260,572 in 2013/14 and £267,347 in 2014/15 - a 2.3% cut

The Dukes provides a mixed programme of performing arts, cinema and youth theatre.

The Folly has a grant of £142,486 in 2011/2012, but will no longer be supported by the Arts Council.

Despite its funding cut, folly Chief Executive Taylor Nuttall clearly hopes the organisation will survive. "folly has always been an organisation that embraces change," he notes, "seeing this as a key part of its own innovative approach and looking forwards to the future.  In this folly has always followed the lead of artists and will continue to do so.

Litfest has a grant of £65,530 in 2011/2012, but will no longer be supported by the Arts Council.

Lancaster Litfest was founded by local people in 1977. The annual festival has promoted a wide-ranging programme of poets and prose writers from the experimental, overlooked and local, to mainstream international literature. The Arts Council funded the organisation to deliver the high quality annual literature festival for Lancaster and related development and outreach projects in Lancaster and, in partnership with other organisations, across Lancashire.

Ludus Dance has a grant of £280,958 in 2011/2012, and  £95,000 in 2012/13, £97,280 in 2013/14 and £98,809 in 2014/15 - a cut in funding of 66.9%

Ludus Dance is one of the key dance development agencies in the region. It has a touring company, offering one-week residencies and touring issue-based work to schools, community and venues nationally and internationally; and a community dance team working at grassroots level. Arts Council funding this year went towards the creation of a new dance performance for touring to schools, venues and community settings and the development and delivery of associated education outreach programmes and resource materials.

More Music has a grant of £61,084 in 2011/2012, and £105,00 in 2012/13, £107,415 in 2013/14 and £110,208 in 2014/15 - a 68% increase

More Music in Morecambe is a community music organisation with its own building in the centre of Morecambe. It provides training, performances and opportunities for people to take part in a range of music genres, with a special emphasis on combating social exclusion and on culturally diverse music. The Arts Council funds the organisation to deliver its programme of high class education and training classes, workshops and community projects that involve ethnically diverse communities, young people and people that, traditionally have not had access to music.

The Nuffield Theatre has a grant of £92,359 in 2011/2012, and and £102,359 in 2012/13, £104,816 in 2013/14 and £107,541 in 2014/15 - a 8.4% rise

The Storey Gallery has a grant of £31,006 in 2011/2012, but will no longer be supported by the Arts Council.

The Storey Gallery is an established, independent artist-centred gallery in Lancaster that promotes and presents the work of national and internationally significant contemporary artists. Alongside the exhibition programme, Storey Gallery offers an education programme and participatory outreach projects, which was supported by the Arts Council.

Beyond Lancaster, there's some good news for Blackpool:  Blackpool Grand Theatre has received arts funding with a grant of £120,000 for 2012/13 and 2013/14 and 2014/15. It's one of several organisations to gain Arts Council support, while others have lost theirs.

Other arts organisations of local interest are:

The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal has a grant of £237,077 in 2011/2012, and and £320,00 in 2012/13, £327,360 in 2013/14 and £335,871 in 2014/15 - a 31.9% increase

Cumbria Theatre Trust has a grant of £479,808 in 2011/2012, and £600,000 in 2012/13, £614,400 in 2013/14 and £630,374 in 2014/15 - a 22.3% increase

Grizedale Arts has a grant of£122,616 for 2011/2012, and £162,616 in 2012/13, £166,356 in 2013/14 - a 29.6% increase in funding

Kendal Arts International has been awarded a grant of £290,00 in 2012/13, £296,670 in 2013/14 and £304,383 in 2014/15

Lakeland Arts Trust has a grant of £77,564 in 2011/2012, and £120,00 in 2012/13, £122,760 in 2013/14 and £125,952 in 2014/15 - a 51.2% increase

The Wordsworth Trust has a grant of £76,360 in 2011/2012, and £76,360 in 2012/13, £78,116 in 2013/14 and £80,147 in 2014/15 - a 2.3% cut

Overall, Arts Council funding will see theatres, galleries and other arts organisations in the North West receiving just under £77 million in funding over three years from April 2012. 85 "National portfolio organisations" in the region replace the existing 108 supported through the regularly funded organisations programme.

The funding announcement follows the Arts Council's decision in 2010 to introduce a new funding system and an ambitious 10-year strategic framework for the arts in England, and takes into account a significant cut in the Arts Council's budget from government.

Fewer organisations will be funded but, set in the context of the Arts Council's 10-year vision for the arts, the aim is to fund organisations who will get great art to even more people and work collaboratively to make the most of the available funds.

"The National portfolio is one of the ways in which the Arts Council supports artists and arts organisations," the Arts Council says. "Money will continue to be awarded through our Lottery-funded Grants for the arts programme and other Lottery-funded programmes will be announced later in the year.

"The application process for the new National portfolio began in November 2010 and the new portfolio will come into operation in April 2012.

"The new portfolio has been shaped by the goals of the Arts Council's new strategic framework – Achieving great art for everyone – and by the challenging economic backdrop of a 29.6% grant in aid (GIA) cut to the Arts Council's 2011-2015 budget from government. 14.9% of this cut has been passed on to the budget for portfolio organisations.

"All existing regularly funded organisations (RFOs) who were unsuccessful in their applications have 12 months of remaining Arts Council funding to allow them to explore alternative sources of support or adapt their business plans."

 • A full list of all the national portfolio organisations which will be funded in the North West can be found on our website


Anonymous said...

Nobody knows what folly does in Lancaster, the last time I saw their name was in an advert in support of the bypass.
The Dukes does great work across all the arts and in its youth theatre, generating future talent. They double every penny they get and are a wonderful bag of tricks. The Storey is a council blunder, like Citylab. If you check out their facebook page, you'll be the 15th person to do so. It's a buzz-free zone. Its viability was based entirely on a plan to rent workshops, but not, unfortunately, at rates affordable to start-up enterprises. As they cannot even run a market, this is is hardly surprising and they should have played to local needs, not commercially unrealistic 'visions'.
The most woeful casualty of this tomfoolery is LitFest, Like More Music it is an important nurturing body for local talent. I hope they will fight this, bigtime. Fighting works.

John Freeman said...

You're confusing the Storey Creative Industries Centre with the Storey Gallery - an easy mistake, but they're two distinct entities. The Storey Gallery is an exhibition space within the Storey Creative Industries Centre building and a separate entity. It puts on a range of exhibitions, including art by some local artists.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the Storey funding cut, its done NOTHING for local artists (unless they are on the board.....)

Anonymous said...

Actually Anonymous...Storey Creative Industries centre isnt aimed at start up nothing to do with the council (unlike Citylab)...and the last time I checked was almost 90% full.

Well done on the "getting the facts before opening the mouth" effort :)

Catherine Sadler said...

Anonymous (?) is deluded if they think the Storey would have received ACE funding by only showing work by local artists... surely better to bring national and international artists into Lancaster... or is only local best?

Catherine Sadler, (formerly Projects Manager at Litfest)

Chris Satori said...

The Storey was donated to the city council on their agreeing to following Covenant:

"The restrictive covenants contained and referred to in the Conveyance of the Storey Institute dated the 6th July 1893 between Sir Thomas Storey and The Mayor Aldermen and Burgesses of Lancaster

"To the irrevocable intent and purpose and the corporation do hereby declare that all and singular and hereditaments and premises shall at all times hereafter be held upon trust for the purposes of the advancement in the Borough of Lancaster of science and art and technical and industrial education more particularly for affecting the purposes of The Public Libraries Act 1892 The Technical Instruction Act 1889 The Technical Industrial Institutions Act 1892 and any statutory development or instruction and dissemination of knowledge and information in such other subjects in Act Science Literature History and Technical and Industrial Education as the corporation may from time to time
deem expedient or for all or any or such of the purposes aforesaid as a corporation shall in their discretion from time to time select and determine with liberty also to the Corporation to resort and adopt such action and procedure in all respects as conformably with the said Deed The Deed of Covenant made between Sir Thomas Storey and the Committee of the Lancaster Mechanics Institute and these presents the Corporation from time to time or at any time think fit or proper for furthering carrying out effectuating all or some or one of such purposes PROVIDED THAT and it is hereby expressly agreed and declared that no political or religious meeting or discussion shall at any time or under any circumstances whatsoever be held or permitted in or upon the Storey Institute or in or upon any other part of the premises hereinbefore
expressed to be hereby granted and conveyed."
END of Schedule

The inclusion of the art gallery and LitFest just about fulfil the terms of the covenant (basically, about providing educational facilities for the workers) and they are supported by the council. It's possible that some of the creative industries also have a training role. I have no idea but they look a bit likely.

I find it remarkable that Sir Thomas Storey cared more about educating and skillin' up the Lancaster masses than David Cameron and Nick Clegg do. I guess he knew when he was rich enough. Also, perhaps, being of an entrepreneurial bent, he thought it would draw out more exploitable talent coming through. After all, he didn't actually invent oilcloth and its manufacturing processes himself.

John Freeman said...

Here is the Arts Council's response to my letter complaining about the loss of litfest's funding... they appear loathe to explain the full reasons for not backing this long-established organisation.

Dear John,

Thank you for your email and for taking the time to share your views about our decision not to award National Portfolio funding to Lancaster litfest.

For the first time in the Art Council’s 65-year-old history, we have used an open application process with published criteria, shaped by a shared long-term vision for the arts, to make our portfolio decisions. We believe that ambition, artistic adventure and entrepreneurial spirit should continue against a challenging economic backdrop, and all of our decisions have been made in the context of our 10-year strategic framework, Achieving great art for everyone; and the reduced resources available – a 14.9% cut to the budget for funded organisations.

To achieve this, we have made strategic decisions, so that great work can continue, that inspirational leadership is developed and supported, and that a vibrant countrywide ecology is maintained.

Using our published criteria, the final decisions show that the Arts Council is

· Supporting, rather than holding back, excellent organisations who have just got into their stride – or are making quantum leaps – enabling them to deliver to their full potential and achieve the long-term vision for the arts in this country

· Maintaining, rather than destabilising, organisations who have just reached the point of becoming artistically and commercially resilient

· Offering portfolio funding for the first time to a number of exciting new organisations and artists

Arts Council England received 1,333 applications to join the National Portfolio, asking for a total of £1.4 billion over three years. The available Grant in aid budget was £956m million over three years

All existing regularly funded organisations (RFOs) who were not successful in their applications have 12 months of remaining Arts Council funding to allow them to explore alternative sources of support or adapt their business plans. This transitional year will provide a degree of stability and ensure that all organisations who are managing a significant change in their funding from 2012 will have a full year to manage the change in the most effective way.

We are not publishing a full list of unsuccessful applicants, as organisations have indicated that they do not want us to release this information and we have been advised that it would potentially compromise their commercial interests.

This has been a thorough and open process and we have had to make difficult choices. Regretfully, we have had to turn down many good applications and cease funding 206 of our existing portfolio organisations. But we wanted to fund a portfolio that would not only survive, but would flourish.

Thank you for your comments about Lancaster litfest. It is good to know that you are passionate about the arts in your region.

We know that not everyone will be happy with our decisions, but the Arts Council is here to help the arts as a whole to be the best they can be, and to work with organisations to achieve that over the next few years.

If you have any further queries, please contact the Enquiries team for assistance on 0845 300 6200 or email

We are confident that this National Portfolio reflects the quality and excellence of the arts all across England.

I hope this information will be helpful and we appreciate you having taken the time to share your views with us.

Kind regards

Iain Ferns
Customer Service Advisor, Enquiries
Arts Council England, National Support Centre
Phone 0845 300 6200
Fax 0161 934 4426

How is cutting an organisation's entire Arts Council funding not 'destablising'? Sheesh.

Tim Young said...

Given the many years that Lancaster has enjoyed lavish arts funding (and be gracious people, the town has been spoiled rotten in arts funding terms for three decades now)the latest arts council cuts should come as absolutely no surprise. For some organisations their longevity was only paralleled by their jobs for the girls and boys quotient...the usual suspects becoming complacent over time in terms of funding expectations. I think it only fair for other geographic locations to have a bite of the arts councils largesse, i find it extremely churlish of certain individuals in Lancaster to complain about these cuts given the absolute sea change in socio-economic conditions in the UK at the present time.

John Freeman said...

@Tim Young: I can't comment on the Folly or Storey Arts but litfest has always been at the forefront of promoting new writers and writing. I could understand a cut, everyone has taken a hit, but a complete loss of funding? C'mon.