What the Arts Council National Portfolio Funding could mean for Children and Young People

30 March 2011

Arts Council England has announced which organisations it will be funding from 2012 onwards.

It will be some weeks before the CLA is able to make an authoritative comment on the new portfolio and we urge our members and signatories to get in touch at and tell us about the impact on their practice and organisations so that we can start to build a coherent picture. However, it does seem clear that whatever subsequent decisions are taken, the cultural learning sector will be impoverished by a loss of colleagues, profile and funded support.Early headlines for children and young people include: The news that Youth Dance England (YDE), the national strategic agency for youth dance, has not been successful in their application. You can read the press release here.In her statement Linda Jasper, Director of YDE, said:“It is a waste of public investment to take this decision not to continue to fund a highly successful organisation that has pioneered ways of working to reach children and young people locally, on modest investment.”Some of the regional strategic dance agencies have received an uplift (for example, Dance4 Ltd have received a 47.1% increase in real terms), which will mean some great regional youth dance is protected, but lack of investment in YDE will mean that the strategic overview and national and regional networking will be lost.Strategic, second-tier and umbrella organisations appear to have been disproportionately hit in the funding allocations. All of the specialist audience development agencies (many of which support organisations to work more effectively with children and young people and the professionals that surround them) have been cut from the portfolio and you can read the statement from Audiences UK here. Early arts the professional development and agency for artists working in the early years sector was also unsuccessful in its bid, leaving the 6,000 members without strategic direction.These organisations have been providing crucial support and advice to arts and wider cultural partners grappling with the new policy and funding landscape and we can only hope that new funding routes will emerge which can help sustain these invaluable brokerage resources.The National Association of Youth Theatres has had its funding entirely cut by ACE, as has Arts Inform in London, and the Architecture Centre Network; an organisation supporting a great deal of strategic, national cultural learning work within the built environment. Several of the regional built-environment agencies have also been unsuccessful in their applications; Beam , The Building Exploratory, MADE and Open-City’s programme Art in the Open. The National Society for Education in Art and Design has lost the funding for its excellent Artist Teacher Programme after eleven years.Arts Council has not published a list of all those organisations that have been unsuccessful, so it is difficult to accurately gauge the full impact of the settlement, and we will not know the exact proportional spend on work for, by and with children and young people for some days yet.We do know that many of the organisations who produce excellent and inspiring cultural learning work have had their funding reduced. We strongly urge those organisations to preserve and maintain the proportional spend on their cultural learning and education work. It is critical that the expert staff and resource for inspiring learning is maintained against the wider context of cuts for children and young people.There are some bright spots in the portfolio, with cultural learning organisations such as Seven Stories, Burnley Youth Theatre and the Cornerhouse in Manchester all receiving uplifts in their funding, and organisations like the National Skills Academy, Creative and Cultural, 20 Stories High and the Children’s Bookshow gaining funding for the first time.The new package of portfolio funding also includes some specific earmarked lottery funding for a number of organisations which will take on a new strategic role for children and young people. £10.5 million a year will be allocated to a group of ‘Bridge’ delivery organisations, who will provide a direct connection between the work produced by arts organisations and schools and communities in their area.There is a list of successful Bridge organisations and their allocations on the Arts Council website.Arts Council has stated in its press release that this strategic funding will partly address the gap left when the Treasury ceased to fund of the £38 million Creative Partnerships scheme and the Find Your Talent programme. ACE also states that it recognises that cultural learning work is particularly vulnerable at a time of public sector cuts.ACE says that some of the new ‘Bridge’ organisations such as the Royal Opera House’s Thurrock operation and the Sage Gateshead, will also take the lead – along with Youth Music – in implementing the recommendations in the Henley Review on Music Education.The CLA has spoken to a number of the successful ‘Bridge’ organisations this morning, including Lucy Crompton-Reid, Director of Apples and Snakes who said:‘Apples and Snakes is delighted at the Arts Council’s continued investment in our work within spoken word, and in particular our role in developing children and young people’s participation. We look forward to working with other innovative organisations across and beyond London to engage children and young people in the arts in new and exciting ways.’And Jane Bryant, Chief Executive of Artswork who said:‘This is excellent news for Artswork but a tremendous challenge too that we will face with excitement and relish.  We are grateful that Arts Council England has recognised both the history and the potential of Artswork.’It is important to note that whilst some of these successful ‘Bridge’ organisations are part of the network who previously delivered Creative Partnerships, several other members of this network were unsuccessful in their bids, with key sector partners like PICL and Cre8us now needing to make plans to take forward their cultural learning work without ACE subsidy.Arts Council has published a summary on its website on the implications of their allocations for children and young people. You can read it here.This funding settlement will operate in a wider context of cuts and a restructure of children’s services, museums, libraries, local authorities and schools. As the resource for work with, for and by children and young people continues to shrink, collaboration and a joined-up approach will become even more vital to the cultural learning sector. The CLA is hopeful that the new ‘Bridge’ organisations, remaining funded arts organisations, and the few strategic support agencies that will be left standing will be able to create a pathway through this new landscape.We must work together to find ways forward for the whole sector; including those individuals and organisations who were unsuccessful in their ACE applications, and those who have never been in receipt of public subsidy. As a single voice for children and young people’s access to the arts and culture the CLA will be championing this agenda over the months to come.