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litfest, Storey Gallery and folly lose Arts Council funding

John Freeman

Lancaster's long-running litfest, the Storey Gallery, the digital arts organisation Folly and LUDUS Dance are among the high profile victims of cuts in funding by Arts Council England, which unveiled its new National portfolio of funded organisations earlier this week.

Neither The Storey Gallery, litfest - one of the oldest literature organisations in the country - or Folly will be supported by the Arts Council for the next three years, with funding ending in April 2012, giving them 12 months to secure alternative income.

LUDUS Dance has also had its budget cut for the next three years by over 60 per cent.

Other local arts organisations such as The Dukes have also had their budgets cut, but Morecambe-based More Music and Lancaster University's Nuffield Theatre have been awarded increased funding.

The Arts Council funding cuts could bring further bad news for the most affected organisations, as funding by other entities, such as Lancaster City and Lancashire County Council, is often based on the level of Arts Council support they are given.

In a short statement, litfest director Andy Darby said he was "disappointed" that Arts Council England did not support their application to be a part of their new "National Portfolio" of arts organisations.

"This we take to be a reflection of the changed priorities and demands being made of and by Arts Council England," he commented, "and not a judgement regarding the value locally of our work.

"We intend to continue to work with organisations across the sector through the Lancaster Arts Partnership to deliver excellent arts experiences for the people of Lancaster and beyond."

Overall, funding changes mean the Arts Council has completely withdrawn support for 23 arts organisations in the North West, with Lancaster hard hit - but 15 organisations in the region are being offered portfolio funding for the first time.

Commneting on its funding withdrawal, the folly Board of Trustees and Chief Executive, Taylor Nuttall also said he was disappointed by the Arts Council decision.

"We wish to express our commisserations to our fellow arts sector colleagues who were unsuccessful and also our conratulations to those that were in this process," he said. " The coming year will be one of readjustment and strategic development in the sector."

Previously regarded by the Arts Council as a "leading digital arts organisation", it was supported to deliver a high quality programme of creative digital media work. Instead of funding folly, the Arts Council, which says it is is "building on the North West's strength in digital arts", is continuing to support similar organisations such as FACT in Liverpool and in Cornerhouse in Manchester, established leaders in the field of digital and media arts "both of which form part of the national backbone of digital arts organisations.

"There is also increased investment in FutureEverything in Manchester, as well as portfolio funding for the first time for Octopus in Barrow and Manchester Craft and Design Limited who all demonstrate how those new technologies can further artform and market development."

The Dukes, which has been very successful over the last two years, are surprized by the funding cut, after it effectively re-invented itself after a major Arts Council cut three years ago, and staging nore events than ever before last year.

"The quality of our work has risen dramatically as has our earned income," they say. "Like any other arts organisation receiving a cut, we now have to consider a measured response.

"Whilst The Dukes’ situation is difficult, we are even more concerned for the broader picture in Lancaster.  Colleagues at Ludus Dance, Litfest, The Storey Gallery and folly have all received bad news and we wish them well."

Local Arts Funding in Detail

• The Dukes has a grant of £254,714 in 2011/2012, and the same for 2012/13, £260,572 in 2013/14 and £267,347 in 2014/15 - a 2.3% cut

The Dukes provides a mixed programme of performing arts, cinema and youth theatre.

• The Folly has a grant of £142,486 in 2011/2012, but will no longer be supported by the Arts Council.

Despite its funding cut, folly Chief Executive Taylor Nuttall clearly hopes the organisation will survive. "folly has always been an organisation that embraces change," he notes, "seeing this as a key part of its own innovative approach and looking forwards to the future.  In this folly has always followed the lead of artists and will continue to do so.

• Litfest has a grant of £65,530 in 2011/2012, but will no longer be supported by the Arts Council.

Lancaster Litfest was founded by local people in 1977. The annual festival has promoted a wide-ranging programme of poets and prose writers from the experimental, overlooked and local, to mainstream international literature. The Arts Council funded the organisation to deliver the high quality annual literature festival for Lancaster and related development and outreach projects in Lancaster and, in partnership with other organisations, across Lancashire.

• Ludus Dance has a grant of £280,958 in 2011/2012, and  £95,000 in 2012/13, £97,280 in 2013/14 and £98,809 in 2014/15 - a cut in funding of 66.9%

Ludus Dance is one of the key dance development agencies in the region. It has a touring company, offering one-week residencies and touring issue-based work to schools, community and venues nationally and internationally; and a community dance team working at grassroots level. Arts Council funding this year went towards the creation of a new dance performance for touring to schools, venues and community settings and the development and delivery of associated education outreach programmes and resource materials.

• More Music has a grant of £61,084 in 2011/2012, and £105,00 in 2012/13, £107,415 in 2013/14 and £110,208 in 2014/15 - a 68% increase

More Music in Morecambe is a community music organisation with its own building in the centre of Morecambe. It provides training, performances and opportunities for people to take part in a range of music genres, with a special emphasis on combating social exclusion and on culturally diverse music. The Arts Council funds the organisation to deliver its programme of high class education and training classes, workshops and community projects that involve ethnically diverse communities, young people and people that, traditionally have not had access to music.

• The Nuffield Theatre has a grant of £92,359 in 2011/2012, and and £102,359 in 2012/13, £104,816 in 2013/14 and £107,541 in 2014/15 - a 8.4% rise

• The Storey Gallery has a grant of £31,006 in 2011/2012, but will no longer be supported by the Arts Council.

The Storey Gallery is an established, independent artist-centred gallery in Lancaster that promotes and presents the work of national and internationally significant contemporary artists. Alongside the exhibition programme, Storey Gallery offers an education programme and participatory outreach projects, which was supported by the Arts Council.

Beyond Lancaster, there's some good news for Blackpool:  Blackpool Grand Theatre has received arts funding with a grant of £120,000 for 2012/13 and 2013/14 and 2014/15. It's one of several organisations to gain Arts Council support, while others have lost theirs.

Other arts organisations of local interest are:

• The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal has a grant of £237,077 in 2011/2012, and and £320,00 in 2012/13, £327,360 in 2013/14 and £335,871 in 2014/15 - a 31.9% increase

• Cumbria Theatre Trust has a grant of £479,808 in 2011/2012, and £600,000 in 2012/13, £614,400 in 2013/14 and £630,374 in 2014/15 - a 22.3% increase

• Grizedale Arts has a grant of£122,616 for 2011/2012, and £162,616 in 2012/13, £166,356 in 2013/14 - a 29.6% increase in funding

• Kendal Arts International has been awarded a grant of £290,00 in 2012/13, £296,670 in 2013/14 and £304,383 in 2014/15

• Lakeland Arts Trust has a grant of £77,564 in 2011/2012, and £120,00 in 2012/13, £122,760 in 2013/14 and £125,952 in 2014/15 - a 51.2% increase

• The Wordsworth Trust has a grant of £76,360 in 2011/2012, and £76,360 in 2012/13, £78,116 in 2013/14 and £80,147 in 2014/15 - a 2.3% cut

Overall, Arts Council funding will see theatres, galleries and other arts organisations in the North West receiving just under £77 million in funding over three years from April 2012. 85 "National portfolio organisations" in the region replace the existing 108 supported through the regularly funded organisations programme.

The funding announcement follows the Arts Council's decision in 2010 to introduce a new funding system and an ambitious 10-year strategic framework for the arts in England, and takes into account a significant cut in the Arts Council's budget from government.

Fewer organisations will be funded but, set in the context of the Arts Council's 10-year vision for the arts, the aim is to fund organisations who will get great art to even more people and work collaboratively to make the most of the available funds.

"The National portfolio is one of the ways in which the Arts Council supports artists and arts organisations," the Arts Council says. "Money will continue to be awarded through our Lottery-funded Grants for the arts programme and other Lottery-funded programmes will be announced later in the year.

"The application process for the new National portfolio began in November 2010 and the new portfolio will come into operation in April 2012.

"The new portfolio has been shaped by the goals of the Arts Council's new strategic framework – Achieving great art for everyone – and by the challenging economic backdrop of a 29.6% grant in aid (GIA) cut to the Arts Council's 2011-2015 budget from government. 14.9% of this cut has been passed on to the budget for portfolio organisations.

"All existing regularly funded organisations (RFOs) who were unsuccessful in their applications have 12 months of remaining Arts Council funding to allow them to explore alternative sources of support or adapt their business plans."

 • A full list of all the national portfolio organisations which will be funded in the North West can be found on our website