Arts Council England faces a 3% funding cut over the next two years.
Chief executive Alan Davey described the current climate for arts funding as “extremely challenging” and admitted that cuts will have to be passed on directly to arts organisations.
A reduction to the Department for Culture, Sport and Media’s budget, announced in the Autumn Statement, will be passed on to ACE as a cut to their grant in aid of £3.9m, or 1% in 2013-14, and £7.7m, 2%, in 2014-15.
Davey said: “The government’s intention seems to have been that Whitehall departments absorb any cuts themselves from efficiencies but since the DCMS has already given itself a 50% administration cut – which was also applied to the Arts Council and other NDPBs [non-departmental public bodies] – the department’s latest cuts have been passed straight on to the bodies it funds.”
He added: “What is clear is that our grant in aid budgets for National Portfolio Organisations and museum activity will reduce by 1% and 2%. We must now look closely at the figures and decide how we will pass these cuts on. Some organisations are also having to deal with local authority cuts and so the situation is extremely challenging.”
The Reading Agency, BookTrust, Carcanet, Bloodaxe and Arcadia are among ACE's roster of National Portfolio Organisations.
Neil Astley, editor and m.d. of Bloodaxe Books, said: “ACE sent an email to all of their clients saying they may have to pass on their cuts of 1% and 2%. We still don’t know what kind of impact it will have. It has happened to us before a few years ago.. .and we had a 5% cut that they had to pass on. A 1% cut will hopefully not be quite so problematic, but I do worry about what lies ahead. It’s three years until our funding is renewed, and who knows what the DCMS will have asked of ACE by then. “
The news follows previous cutbacks at ACE, which will see them losing a fifth of staff and restructuring their regional offices. The changes will mean they will no longer have a dedicated libraries director, while their regional offices are cut from nine down to five.
The Bookseller has previously reported on how ACE cuts will impact on areas like Newcastle, where the city council has announced plans to scrap its entire budget for culture, and cut down its number of libraries from 18 to just eight.
Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North which supports literature in the region and is funded by ACE, recently described the cuts to funding as “dark times”.