Today’s UK Twitter Trends (March 30): Britain Reacts to Arts Council Cuts

Arts Council has been trending on Twitter in the UK because the government-run Arts Council of England (ACE) announced today how funding, which is being cut by 15 percent, will be distributed among arts organizations.

The council’s chair, Dame Liz Forgan, said that grants would not be cut across the board — there would be no “salami-slicing” as she termed it. Instead, deep cuts were made to some organizations, and some had funds cut off entirely, “which has meant some painful decisions,” she said.

At the same time, other arts groups have actually gotten more funding, so the talk today was all about the winners and losers.

In all, according to the Press Association, out of the roughly 3000 arts groups that applied, 695 received funding, down from 845 organizations that had previously been funded. Some 200 groups lost their funding altogether, and over 300 faced cuts from previous years. There were 110 new recipients.

Britain's Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy

One of the groups that lost its council money completely was the Poetry Book Society, which was founded in 1953 by T.S. Eliot. England’s current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, told The Guardian: “This news goes beyond shocking and touches the realms of the disgusting.” She called it a “national shame and scandal.”

Her feelings were echoed by The Guardian’s chief arts writer, Charlotte Higgins, who wrote of the cuts overall: “It is a black day for the arts in England and, for all the government’s comforting rhetoric, it will have to take responsibility for a crude, unthinking vandalism to the English cultural landscape.”

On the other hand, Peter Aspden of the Financial Times called the cuts a “surprisingly bloodless affair” and wrote that “reaction from most of the country’s leading institutions has been broadly sympathetic to the council’s onerous task.”

Nevertheless, he felt there were a few “puzzling decisions.”  For example, London’s Almeida Theatre, he wrote, “with no lack of artistic excellence,” lost 39 percent of its grant, while Arcola Theatre, “a London borough of more diverse fortunes,” got an 82 percent increase.  ”Perhaps,” he suggested, the deeper cuts for the Almeida resulted from a “feeling that the fashionable theatre was strongly placed to increase its private sponsorship.”

As news of individual grants came in, the drama played out in real time, not only on Twitter, but on places like the Guardian’s Culture Cuts blog, which updated artistic fortunes by the minute and even offered a map to show the impacts of the cuts geographically.

CleverTheatre‎: Sadly, Box Clever was unsuccessful in its application for continued Arts Council funding.

gingerginger: Both Trestle & the Hat Factory have lost their Arts Council funding – crappy, crappy, crappy shame

saltpublishing: Sadly, we didn’t succeed with our bid for Arts Council funding. We need your support to take our publishing forward #JustOneBook

saltpublishing: I’ve been invited by the BBC to comment on our ACE funding bid this evening.

saltpublishing: Just been dropped by the Beeb in favour of someone who’s angry about their #acefunding cuts

theoae‎: Delighted to announce that we have retained our Arts Council funding

FreeWordCentre‎: Free Word are thrilled to announce that we have received the Arts council funding that we had hoped for.

Littlefishmusic: To put this £100m Arts Council cut into context, 206 organisations have lost funding today for the cost of two Apache attack helicopters.

artistsmakers: Can we stop pretending that Arts Council funding = the arts in GB. Let’s celebrate independent arts orgs doing it their own way #acefunding

Manthorp‎: The Nigerian Arts Council has just offered me $5000000 NPO support. They just need my account details.

1755Dictionary‎:Really pleased my Critique of Arts Council Funding Opera in the form of Alphabetti Spaghetti with Puppets has got #acefunding