CSR spares arts budget, but not libraries

CSR spares arts budget, but not libraries

Arts Council England (ACE) has described the cuts detailed in the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review as the "best case scenario in what are difficult and testing times".

However, library campaigners have criticised the further cuts, which, will see local authorities facing 10% less in funding, on top of 26% cutback they have already endured.

In the review today (26th June), Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne outlined that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) would face a 7% cut in its resource budget, with a specific 5% cut for its arts and museums side.

Peter Bazalgette, chair of ACE, said: "A cut of five per cent is a best case scenario in what are difficult and testing economic times for everyone. DCMS and the culture sector have all done a good job in making the case for continued government investment in the arts and culture and highlighting the vital contribution which they are able to make to our quality of life and economy as a result. It’s encouraging to see that the Treasury and chancellor have taken note."

He added: "Our next step will be to consider how best to run an investment strategy which will provide the maximum benefit not only to the sector but to the wider public. We will have more information to share in the coming weeks."

Library campaigners fear councils will be forced to slash spending on libraries as they seek to make more savings, resulting in more closures. Website Public Libraries News, which compiles incidents of library closures, claims that as of 1st April 2013, 336 libraries are under threat of closure, or have been closed or left local authority control. It also estimates that 78 libraries and 14 mobile libraries were closed in 2012/13, while CIPFA calculates that 201 library service points were lost in 2011/12.

Campaigner Johanna Anderson, chair of the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries, said: "It will only get worse from here as councils look for ways to save more money. Once these cuts have been made and the service is undermined, it will practically impossible to bring it back."