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Mark Skipper DL on the Spending Review

Published on Wednesday 26 June, 2013

Our Chief Executive Mark Skipper DL responds to today's spending review...

Pippa Moore & Abigail Prudames in Mark Godden's Angels in the Architecture. Photo Emma kauldhar.

Although the arts community has generally welcomed this announcement, one must not forget that this news comes on the back of extensive cuts to public funding for the arts with more planned in the future. The 7% cut agreed with the culture secretary will see a 5% cut to Arts Council England which no doubt in turn will impact on the portfolio of NPOs present and future – how much and to whom is yet to be seen.

We have all accepted that the arts have to feel a share of the pain but isn't enough, enough? A recent review into ballet and opera carried out by Arts Council England found that Northern Ballet was excellent value for money particularly in relation to the breadth of our national tour and we were exemplary in our efficiency and use of resources, so where are we meant to cut from and just how much income in reality can we generate ourselves through private investment and sales initiatives (tickets, space hire etc;)?

Our response to the public spending cuts announced in 2011 was to launch various initiatives including Sponsor a Dancer. This campaign has raised more than £500,000 in private investment (trusts, foundations, corporates and individuals) since its launch in October 2011. However, we feel that there are limitations to how much we can raise through private investment and on this occasion have benefited from many Trusts and Foundations being sympathetic to the situation and prepared to fund core business which is unlikely to be sustainable. Figures recently released by Arts & Business show that although private investment in culture has increased, 90% of this investment is benefitting arts organisations in London with dance receiving the second least amount of private investment overall. As a national dance company based in Yorkshire we would like to see a better balance and a wider distribution of public and private support of the arts which takes into account these regional differences.

In his speech George Osborne said that government spending does not produce sustainable growth, enterprise does. As an artistic company we have to have a vision and it is all about enterprise. On top of our extensive national tour we have introduced a new ballet for children and toured this widely and we are planning to reach even more people by introducing a mid-scale tour to our annual programme from 2015.  A 5% cut to Northern Ballet will stifle creativity, significantly reduce our reach and will result in a lack of ability to realise this vision. In effect it will curtail the enterprise George Osborne referred to in his speech.

Culture is excellent value for money and when the arts budget accounts for less than 0.1% of public spending, yet it makes up 0.4% of the nation's GDP, will cutting this area really bring about the change in the economy the government is looking for?


Mark Skipper DL, Northern Ballet's Chief Executive. Photo Simon Lawson.
Chief Executive

The views expressed in blogs are those of the author and not necessarily of Northern Ballet.