15% of the population of England lives in London. In 2012/13, Arts Council England (ACE) distributed £320m of taxpayers' money to the arts with £20 per head of population (php) allocated in London against £3.60 php in the rest of England.
In the same year the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) distributed £450m of public funds from the same source directly to major 'national' cultural institutions with – this report estimates – £49 php in London against £1 php in the rest of the country.
In total in 2012/13 taxpayers from the whole of England provided benefit to London of £69 php against £4.60 php in the rest of the country – a ratio of 15:1.
A pattern of public funding that favours London has existed since the foundation of the Arts Council. A trend to enhance the imbalance has been consistent for at least 30 years.
During this period successive Governments and Arts Councils have acknowledged the imbalance but argued that it would need a significant new injection of funds to enable redress.
Since 1995, Arts Council England has had stewardship responsibility for – and has distributed – £3.5 billion of 'new and additional' funds for good causes in the arts from the National Lottery.
This report argues that funds from the National Lottery – derived disproportionately from the less well off in society – carry a different ethical mandate for the Arts Council. This suggests there is a need for, at least, geographically proportionate distribution related to size of population.
In fact, Arts Council distribution of its £3.5 billion of new National Lottery funding has provided benefit to London of £165 php against £47php in the rest of England over the 18 years of the Lottery to date.
Last year's figures, combining taxpayers' and Lottery players' funds distributed by Arts Council England show benefit to London of £86 php against £8 php in the rest of England – a ratio of 11:1.
One way to begin redress would be to allocate London its fair 'per capita' share of arts Lottery funding, for an initial five-year period.
The 'core' treasury funding of arts organisations and cultural institutions in London would not be affected. Funds available to London overall would reduce by just over 10%. Cultural production outside London could then benefit over the five years by a total of £600m. This is still less than the cost to the Lottery of the Millennium Dome.
Publication and provenance
Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital, an evidence-based report addressing the balance of arts funds between London and the rest of England, will be published at 1200 noon Thursday 31 October.
The report has been produced – independently and at their own expense – by Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon and David Powell. The research reveals the extent of bias towards London in public funding of the arts provided by taxpayers and National Lottery players throughout England.
Endorsements of the report
"This report is timely, urgent and damning of an increasingly centralised funding process. London is simply eating up the resources, which are limited, and is therefore starving the rest of the country. This is wrong, short sighted and undoubtedly unfair. I think it is time that the rest of England fought back and I wholly support the contents of Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital."
"Three wise and experienced men have, at their own expense, produced a well-researched report that leaves no doubt about the wholly unjustifiable scale of bias towards London in the distribution of public and lottery funding of the arts. To their credit, they also offer a statesmanlike proposal for beginning to redress the balance without any additional call on public funds, and at a time when there is rising anger about policies that allow London – most especially affluent Londoners – to be underwritten at the expense of the rest of the country."
The bar chart on pages 12 and 39 of our report was incorrectly titled. We are grateful to colleagues at Arts Council England for pointing this out to us. The title of the chart has been corrected in the report available on this website.
The bar chart is based on a comparison of the tables on page 36 and 38 of the report.
The 'Before' figures for 2012/13 are based on reported actuals and estimates detailed elsewhere in the report.
The 'After' figures use the same base but with the increase in National Lottery revenues that we have estimated to £350 million and with the cap to its per capita allowance applied to London.
We note that Arts Council England believes our estimate of National Lottery revenues to be over optimistic.
We observe that this does not affect the purpose of the chart, which is to illustrate what we believe to be a manageable reduction in the overall resources available to the arts in the capital from taxpayers and Lottery players throughout the country.
Lower Lottery revenues nationally could lead to our target of £600 million for the proposed National Investment Programme outside London either being achieved over a longer timescale or with contributions from other sources, or being reduced.