Comprehensive Spending Review: First response from the Cultural Learning Alliance

21 October 2010

It will take several months, the publication of the forthcoming education white paper, the findings of the Inquiry into the Funding of Arts and Heritage and the Schools Capital Review, and a great deal of debate and decision-making before the full implications of yesterday’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) are clear.

In this bulletin the CLA aims to include some of the headline information and early analysis of the spending review, and to flag up some of the things we do not yet know.There is already a great deal of information on the CSR on the web, including a very useful summary on the Guardian website. Twitter followers can follow hashtags #spendingreview, and #CSR2010 for up-to-the-minute comment and information sharing.  The full Spending Review report can be downloaded here and a full list of all press notices from government departments here.Education The Department for Education has published a press release on its website with fuller details of its plans.Direct funding to schools is billed in the review to have a slight increase, but we are anxious to hear in more detail which strands of funding will be included in these direct grants. It seems that the new Pupil Premium is included and it may be that previously separate local authority funding, or support for work targeting social inclusion and families has been rolled into these funding streams.Before the announcement journalist Mike Baker published an article urging the public to look at the fine detail of the education plans, and he has now added further thoughts and analysis to his blog. In addition, both The TES and The Guardian have recently published articles that argue that the proposed schools budget will result in widespread local reductions in teachers and education professionals.The Department for Education as a whole is reducing spending by 3% and with schools’ budgets ring-fenced this money is likely to be drawn from other areas funded by the DfE, such as Youth Services, Advice and Guidance, and 14-19 support. Many of these teams and the related strands of local and national government commissioning could be reduced or reconfigured and it is important to ensure that authorities and decision makers realise the contribution they make to the delivery of cultural learning.Schools Capital spending has been reduced by 60%, meaning that much of the funding will now be used to maintain and refurbish existing schools. Cultural organisations of all kinds will now need to work closely with schools to ensure that all young people have access to fit-for-purpose arts and cultural facilities.CultureThe Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is set to significantly reduce its administrative costs and capital programmes. More details here. It is critical that the Department’s current remit for cultural learning and its relationship with the Department for Education is maintained throughout these changes.The Arts have received significant reductions with Arts Council England (ACE) receiving a 29.6% cut. The Guardian has published an article which sets out what this might mean and ACE have released a statement here and sent a similar e-mail to arts organisations. The Coalition has asked the Arts Council to ensure that cuts to front-line arts organisations do not go beyond 15%, but this could mean a 50% reduction for ACE itself and it is yet unclear what will happen to their strategic programmes, brokerage and umbrella bodies.The CLA strongly urges the Arts Council to maintain its current proportional spend and strong emphasis on quality work with, for and by children and young people, and to support its regularly funded portfolio in the delivery of its education and learning work. With yesterday’s cuts to Creative Partnerships (CP) projects and the loss of funding for specialist status, teachers and young people will need the Arts Council’s support more than ever. It is imperative that the Arts Award, Artsmark and the widespread cultural learning practice in arts organisations are nurtured and strengthened. It is also essential that the extensive learning, innovation and expertise from projects such as Find Your Talent, CP and MLA’s Strategic Commissioning programme are incorporated into plans for the future.English Heritage has recieved a cut of 32% and made a statement here . They will be making detailed decisions folowing a meeting on the 27th of October.Culture, Creativity and Education, the organisation that distributes funding for CP, has made a statement that you can read here.The news of the DCMS cuts to arms-length bodies has already been reported in this blog, but you can recap here. Yesterday DCMS also announced that the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is to be wound up. They have published a statement here.News for the museums sector included the renewal of the Renaissance programme, albeit with a cut of 15%. Roy Clare at the Museums Libraries and Archives Council has published a statement here with more information and with a rallying cry to local authorities to maintain their investment in culture. Free admission to national museums will be maintained, but there will be cuts to organisations also at 15%.Twitter followers can share information at #artsfunding and #museumsfunding and on the specially created arts funding webpage.In this current climate it remains vital that partners continue to support campaigns like Save the Arts and I Value the Arts which continue to make the case for the value of culture.Public Services and Local AuthoritiesIt was confirmed yesterday that the Local Area Agreement targets which authorities currently use as a framework for investment are to be scrapped and that much of the ring-fencing of local authority (LA) funding will be abolished by April 2011. This is a backdrop to the 28.4% cuts that LAs will face over the next four years. Secretary of State Eric Pickles sent a letter to councils that you can read here and The Guardian’s Patrick Butler has written this article. The Local Government Association has made this statement.As councils make the difficult decisions to prioritise their investment, the CLA urges budget holders to maintain the expertise and support offered by cultural learning professionals in school improvement, leisure, culture, regeneration, youth and children’s services and to protect investment into cultural organisations, museums and libraries. Cultural learning partners are experts at working in an integrated way, at empowering local communities, at generating income and sharing expertise. Small investments into professionals and projects will continue to contribute to the efficient and effective delivery of educational and social outcomes.What you can do nowYesterday we received confirmation of cuts to the DCMS, Arts Council, English Heritage, British Film Institute and other cultural arms-length bodies, the loss of the Creative Partnerships programme and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and early indications that Specialist Schools will no longer be funded. Over the last ten years we have all worked with and through these and similar organisations and programmes to ensure that the quality, depth and diversity of cultural learning in this country are second to none. It is absolutely critical that we continue to acknowledge and champion the brilliant and visionary work of our organisations, colleagues and the sector, and that we support each other to take this practice and passion forward through the steep challenges of the next decade.In response to the spending review the CLA urges our signatories and partners in schools, youth services, local authorities, funding bodies and cultural organisations to redouble their efforts to work together to raise their profile, demonstrate the value of the arts and culture, and generate every scrap of investment which can be used to ensure that children and young people are able to access quality cultural learning experiences in the years to come.The need for a clear strategy which partners, parents and practitioners can sign up to has become increasingly apparent as resource, policy and infrastructure changes are put into action. In a time of shrinking funding it is absolutely critical that we come together and find innovative ways to make the most of talent and resources and to make the case for future and on-going support as powerfully as possible.The CLA will be working through the Big Link Up to bring together colleagues and start developing this strategy and discussing what we can do to move this agenda forward. We are asking all signatories to encourage colleagues, friends and family to sign up and get involved at a local, regional and national level.We also want you to continue to tell us how the cuts are affecting you and your work so that we can build up a compelling picture to support the strategy and lobby effectively.Here are some ways in which you can take action to stay informed, join in the discussion and work with others to contribute to the future of cultural learning:1. Circulate this newsletter to friends, colleagues and others concerned about the future of cultural learning, urging them to sign up to the campaign2. Hold a Link Up event, bringing together your local cultural learning network to discuss what you can do in your area3. If you are a school, hold an assembly event during 22-26 November to celebrate cultural learning in your school4. Join in the national debate on the afternoon of 23 November by watching the live broadcast and joining in the discussion online