How will the Budget 2016 affect Arts & Culture?

Thursday 17th March 2016

There were several elements of yesterday’s Budget announcement affecting the arts, creative industries and cultural education. However, when searching for the positives, there were also several concerns.

Here’s a summary of investments in culture:

– Museums and galleries are to get tax relief to help cover the costs of developing temporary or touring exhibitions. Consultations to begin this summer (BBC)

– The museum VAT refund eligibility would be extended to any museum or gallery that offers free entry (BBC)

– A pledge to support the British Library’s proposals to develop land to the north of its St Pancras site in London (BBC)

– An expansion of the Royal College of Art in Battersea, which the Treasury will spend £54m on between now and 2022 (BBC)

– A £20m provision across 2016-17 and 2017-18 to fund the repair of cathedrals across Britain (BBC)

– A contribution of £5m to the Dundee V&A museum’s fundraising campaign (BBC)

– Pledge to commit a further £13m to Hull UK City of Culture 2017 (including £8m to ensure there is a lasting cultural legacy in Hull) (Classical Music Magazine)

– Confirmation of a £20m pledge made in last year’s Autumn Statement for a “Great Exhibition of the North”, and invitation to cities and towns in the North of England to bid to host the event (BBC)

– £1m to support S1 Artspace’s creation of an arts complex in Sheffield, subject to planning permission being granted (Classical Music Magazine)

– £1m to support the transformation of Drapers’ Hall into a multi-purpose music venue in Coventry (Classical Music Magazine)

– £14m in STEAMhouse, a creative innovation centre in Digbeth, Birmingham bringing together arts and culture with science, technology, engineering and maths, subject to business case (Classical Music Magazine)


Photo: Guardian

The Creative Industries Federation released a response shortly after the Chancellor’s speech, outlining what the Budget means for the creative industries.

John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “We welcome the fiscal measures to encourage entrepreneurship and innovative small businesses in our sector and the wider support for culture including measures that should help museums and galleries around the country.

“But we are extremely concerned that local authorities will be hit by another major cut to their budgets when local arts provision is already under pressure.”

Photo: FT

Photo: FT

The Chancellor announced a further £3.5bn cuts in public spending in 2019-20, many of which we can assume will affect the arts. As announced at March Budget 2015, the government will provide tax relief to orchestras at a rate of 25% on qualifying expenditure from 1 April 2016, however, this seems to be the only announcement affecting musicians.

The Evening Standard reported yesterday that “the cost of living in London is starving capital of working artists”, following comments made by Tate boss Nicholas Serota at a talk hosted by the Creative Industries Federation. Also at the talk was mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, who said he would protect artists, musicians and creative industry workers by establishing Creative Enterprise Zones, where planning protection for small industrial workspaces, affordable space and possibly reduced rates and grants would be offered.

Photo: Gabriel Popa

Photo: Gabriel Popa

It was announced in January 2016 that the UK’s creative industries are now worth a record £84.1 billion to the UK economy. The Arts Council might be working on a “25 year plan for culture” but what we need is further support for musicians and artists now, so that we continue to be a world leader in arts and culture.