Artnotes More Recovery Following the irst round of grants from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which granted £257m to 1,382 arts organisations (Artnotes AM441), a further tranche of awards from the £1.57bn fund have since been made, bringing the number of individual grants up to 2,013 and the amount so far awarded up to £428m. The fund includes two main grant categories (£50k–£1m and £1m–£3m) administered by ACE; the second round of sub-£1m awards went to 588 organisations, 60 of which were in the visual arts category. Again, the recipients ranged from commercial agencies and galleries to studio groups and public bodies, with some familiar and not-so-familiar names sharing the £76m, with the following selection being a representative example.
Art Analysis & Research (£225,000), British Antique Dealers’ Association (£198,200), Aures London (£159,130), The Hepworth Wake ield (£146,726), Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust (£146,000), Candid Arts Trust (£127,383), Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (£117,635), Sinclair Wilkinson (£111,266), FRAY Studio (£75,000), Locus+ (£75,000), Colnaghi Foundation (£73,346), V22 Foundation (£70,356), Shape London (£69,834), HOP Projects (£69,615), FrancisKnight (£65,829), The Art Car Boot Fair (£60,000), P21 Gallery (£59,000), Granby Workshop (£55,000), Stryx (£54,791), East London Printmakers (£53,343), Aire Place Studios (£53,121), FerArts (£50,050), Art in the Park (£50,000), Contemporary Lynx (£50,000), UAL – A erall (£50,000), The Moth House (£50,000). The full list of recipients is published on the ACE website.
As for the two rounds of £1m– £3m grants, £94m went to 43 organisations, although the only recipient in the visual arts category was the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which received £1.4m. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the funds went to performing arts organisations, such as theatre or music venues, but other museums were also supported, the Design Museum and the Lowry, for example, each receiving £3m.
On top of this £428m in grants (which is less than the amount the government recently spent on PPE that didn’t meet regulatory standards), still to be announced is £55m from the Capital Kickstart scheme for capital funding and £270m in £3m+ loans from the Repayable Finance scheme, which leaves £857m from the fund that larger organisations are applying for directly to DCMS.
For comparison with the culture sector’s £1.57bn Cultural Recovery Fund, it is worth bearing in mind that the failing Serco test and trace system has a budget of £12bn, and that the Bank of England has purchased £875bn in government bonds and £20bn in corporate debt, while the 2008 credit crunch necessitated a £1.162trn (£1,162bn) state bailout of the UK banking sector, which in 2010 excused George Osborne’s decade of austerity in which the chancellor instituted cuts to public-spending in most sectors but which disproportionately affected local government and the arts. Those Tory and Lib Dem austerity measures were ostensibly put in place to protect the UK’s cherished AAA international credit rating, but this was downgraded by rating agency Moody’s to Aa2 in 2017 in the wake of the EU Referendum and further downgraded to Aa3 in October because of the ‘weakening of the UK’s institutions and governance’, which gives a sense of how the international inancial sector views the current leadership.
More Lockdown England’s inevitable lockdown sequel – given the PM’s request for the return of ‘hustle and bustle’ over the summer and insistence that all education settings reopen – came into force on 5 November, timed perhaps to prevent anyone with Fawksian notions from taking explosive action against Parliament. Despite the autumn restrictions not being as stringent as those in spring, the (initially) month-long rules once again forced all museums and non-essential shops, such as commercial galleries, to close until at least 2 December. Most galleries, of course, had only managed to reopen a month or so previously, the new restrictions making the logistics of exhibition presentation extremely challenging.
The greater concern, however, is the inancial impact on the art sector. Although the chancellor declared that the furlough scheme will return until March, the announcement was too late for many, coming just days a er the previous scheme had ended and when many had already lost their jobs. In response, for example, a Change.org petition has been launched calling for the 322 staff made redundant by the Southbank Centre in London to be rehired (the extended furlough scheme allows for workers made redundant a er 23 September to be put back on the furloughed payroll). The Southbank Centre’s managers, however, are waiting for news of their application to the government’s Culture Recovery Fund before making any decisions, whereas the Royal Academy of Arts has announced that its bid to the CRF was unsuccessful, so it is looking for ways to reduce annual costs by £8m, a situation which has put a hundred jobs at risk. In the meantime, the RA has decided that contracted casual workers (those that have worked at the RA for more than two years) will receive 100% pay during furlough, while non-contracted casual workers – usually those in the most precarious and low-paid positions – will only receive the government’s 80% pay with no top-up from the RA. Staff protests continue outside the institution.
While the return of the furlough scheme is welcome, along with the extension of support for freelancers, many of the art world’s ‘portfolio career’ workers continue to fall through the gaps between the schemes, which require bene iciaries to make certain percentages of their income from speci ic types of employment. Although there is the promise of a vaccine on the horizon, the pressure from Tory backbenchers to reopen the economy even while Covid-19 community transmission igures are either high or are rising seems likely to result in a continuous cycle of loosening and tightening restrictions, causing continued uncertainty and disruption. As a group of dozens of world-leading scientists wrote, in a letter to Lancet on 9 November which damned the government’s Covid-19 response, leaders must ‘treat public health, economy and education as interlinked goals’ – in other words, you can’t solve the economic crisis unless you irst solve the public health crisis.
Meanwhile, the government’s autumn three-year Comprehensive Spending Review, which speci ies departmental budgets (including for funded bodies, such as ACE), has been downgraded to a one-year plan and is expected to be published 25 November, a er AM has gone to press.
Art Monthly no. 442, December 2020 – January 2021
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