The Spending Review | Further cuts for ballet companies

The Spending Review | Further cuts for ballet companies

Today The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, made a statement in the House of Commons on the Spending Review and said, “Britain is moving out of intensive care and from rescue to recovery.”

The Spending Review 2013 will set out how the government will spend tax-payers’ money between April 2015 and April 2016. Osborne said that the Spending Review was governed by three principles : reform, growth and fairness.

You can watch the entire speech from George Osborne here :

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will see a budget cut of 7%, with elite sport protected. It seems that professional ballet dancers are elite athletes in name only because Arts Council England will see a cut of 5%. I know there is always a heated debate about whether or not ballet could or should be considered ‘sport’ over ‘art’ but in this instance it is hard to argue against the fact that they would be better off financially were they to be grouped in this way.

Below is the response from two of the UK’s ballet companies to that cut in funding.


Northern Ballet’s Chief Executive Mark Skipper

“Although the arts community has generally welcomed this announcement, one must not forget that this news comes on the back of extensive cuts to public funding for the arts with more planned in the future. The 7% cut agreed with the culture secretary will see a 5% cut to Arts Council England which no doubt in turn will impact on the portfolio of NPOs present and future – how much and to whom is yet to be seen.

“We have all accepted that the arts have to feel a share of the pain but isn’t enough, enough? A recent review into ballet and opera carried out by Arts Council England found that Northern Ballet was excellent value for money particularly in relation to the breadth of our national tour and we were exemplary in our efficiency and use of resources, so where are we meant to cut from and just how much income in reality can we generate ourselves through private investment and sales initiatives (tickets, space hire etc;)?

“Our response to the public spending cuts announced in 2011 was to launch various initiatives including Sponsor a Dancer. This campaign has raised more than £500,000 in private investment (trusts, foundations, corporates and individuals) since its launch in October 2011. However, we feel that there are limitations to how much we can raise through private investment and on this occasion have benefited from many Trusts and Foundations being sympathetic to the situation and prepared to fund core business which is unlikely to be sustainable. Figures recently released by Arts & Business show that although private investment in culture has increased, 90% of this investment is benefitting arts organisations in London with dance receiving the second least amount of private investment overall. As a national dance company based in Yorkshire we would like to see a better balance and a wider distribution of public and private support of the arts which takes into account these regional differences.

“In his speech George Osborne said that government spending does not produce sustainable growth, enterprise does. As an artistic company we have to have a vision and it is all about enterprise. On top of our extensive national tour we have introduced a new ballet for children and toured this widely and we are planning to reach even more people by introducing a mid-scale tour to our annual programme from 2015.  A 5% cut to Northern Ballet will stifle creativity, significantly reduce our reach and will result in a lack of ability to realise this vision. In effect it will curtail the enterprise George Osborne referred to in his speech.

“Culture is excellent value for money and when the arts budget accounts for less than 0.1% of public spending, yet it makes up 0.4% of the nation’s GDP, will cutting this area really bring about the change in the economy the government is looking for?”


Statement from Sally O’Neill, interim Chief Executive, Royal Opera House

“I am encouraged that the government has listened to our concerns and recognizes the value that arts and culture make to both the quality of people’s lives, and also to the economy. I now look forward to working with Arts Council England as they determine how best to allocate their resources for the future. We recognize that the 5% cut will have a significant impact and we will continue to do all we can to support our colleagues across the sector, including those working in the smaller and regional companies who play such a vital role in the creative industries and who may also be impacted by cuts to local government.

Throughout these difficult economic times, the Royal Opera House continues to provide exceptional value for the money we receive raising more than £3 for every £1 of public subsidy. The current Season has seen 437 performances with 677,000 tickets sold to date, starting at just £5 with 40% priced at £40 or under. In the 2012/13 Season almost 11,000 people experienced our Deloitte Ignite festival of cutting edge work with most events being free; our ROH Live Cinema Season had its largest audience to date with more than 40,000 people across the UK watching The Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; our BP Big Screens offer free relayed performances in 22 locations around the country, and content from Royal Ballet Live – a day in the life of The Royal Ballet broadcast online – has been viewed more than 1million times.

Our Learning and Participation activities reached beyond the Royal Opera House and into schools across the country through teacher training programmes, the ROH Bridge programme, as well as the intensive programme of work with school children and the local community in Thurrock and the Thames Gateway where we are leading a cultural regeneration programme in partnership with Creative & Cultural Skills and Thurrock Council. We also secured our apprenticeship programme for the next decade contributing to the training of young people for backstage skills and crafts for the wider sector, and we work with smaller arts organisations through ROH Connections.

We have already done a lot of work to examine closely every area of our business to see where we could make any further savings and also to see where we can find alternative revenue. We will continue to be bold and ambitious and keep our confidence going forward as we remain as committed as ever to putting on world class opera and ballet, music and dance, and giving opportunities to as many people as possible to participate in our work.”

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