Football - the impact on arts funding – what will it mean for London in 2012?

15 June 2010 | By Cause4 staff

The Art Newspaper has recently published an article about the impact the World Cup in South Africa has made upon arts funding entitled Arts nil, World cup billions. It talks of a reduction in the South African National Arts Council’s budget from £2.5 million to £1.2 million for the 2010/11 financial year. As well as this, the Culture Ministry in South Africa has failed to respond to World Cup applications from local arts and cultural institutions, despite initiating a call for project proposals in 2009. In effect, this means that new and innovative programmes have been blocked and cultural provision will be supplied by the usual mainstream cultural providers.

The main problem, it seems, was a lack of timely planning on the Government’s part which has meant that the great majority of funds have had to be obtained from private sector fundraising. The sector has found it well-nigh on impossible to rise to the challenge, severely limiting the cultural output surrounding the World Cup.

There are obvious cautionary lessons to be learnt with regards to London’s planning for the 2012 games. The Cultural Olympiad, set up in September 2008 at the end of the last games, has announced some high profile initiatives and commissions, ranging from the innovative Artists Taking the Lead to the more conservative World Shakespeare Festival.

However, with DCMS confirming that every organisation within the cultural sector will be affected by the upcoming public spending cuts and warning that the Olympic Games are unlikely to escape, alarm bells are ringing. The situation in South Africa provides a salutary lesson of what happens in terms of programming when money is diverted away from the cultural sector or when planning does not evolve quickly enough.

In two years time London will stage the greatest sporting show on earth. Can we realise the greatest cultural programme too?

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Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of ACE

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