Library Campaign attacks CMS Arts Council report

Library Campaign attacks CMS Arts Council report

The Library Campaign has termed the new report from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee into the activities of Arts Council England a "damp squib".

In the report, released yesterday (5th November), the CMS Committee criticised ACE for its bias in funding projects in the capital, but added that it welcomed the involvement of the Arts Council in museums and libraries.

Laura Swaffield, chair of The Library Campaign, said the report failed to address ACE's relationship with the public library service, over which it takes a supervisory role.

"The select committee barely mentions libraries," Swaffield said: "At one point it quotes the Society of Chief Librarians' tactful hint that 'perhaps there is scope to widen [ACE's] criteria to support and strengthen the broader role of public libraries." But it was happy with ACE's Chief Executive's response that there are 'synergies... between culture, museums and libraries.' Of course there are. But libraries should do so very much more than is implied by that. Things that ACE just doesn't cover."

Swaffield added: "Again, the select committee says much about the 'severe cuts' to local authorities. It also points out that libraries are their only statutory duty, culture-wise. But it fails to notice the obvious corollary - that while other arts bodies have some faint hope of funding basic running costs from lottery grants and so on, libraries are left high and dry.

"We don't criticise the hard-working libraries people at ACE. But they are in the wrong place."

ACE took over the functions of the now-defunct Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2010.

In 2013, ACE released its key piece of library research, Envisioning the Library of the Future, which was met with criticism from campaigners.