It cannot fail to strike anyone reading our reports that each creative enterprise and initiative is invariably the result of innovative thinking, collaborative working, and much hard graft! Take the Fry Art Gallery (p18–19) for instance. They taken funding into their own hands and raised thousands of pounds in just four months to ensure the independence and future prosperity of the gallery for the community and for the artists it supports. The art trails and open studios we feature are all stories of initiatives and collaboration of artists for and with their communities. The quality of events such as the Cambridge Concert Series (p17), Art in Clay (p 20–21), and the Sainsbury Centre Giacometti exhibition (p22–23) attracts sponsors for funding.
When reading about these efforts, it should not surprise us that the creative industries make a huge contribution to the UK economy and create upwards of 1.5 million jobs. Given those hard facts, you would think that these industries would receive plenty of support – well, they do, as we see, from every one of us that appreciates their skills and buys their work whether it is a picture, a pot or a performance. And then there are individuals and businesses who generously sponsor artists and events. But if our creative industries (and along with them our community) are to continue to thrive, they also need adequate funding and support from central and local government, and that is not always forthcoming in a climate of a downward economic trend in what has been called this ‘time of austerity’.
Recent Arts Council (the major funding body) figures show that local authority investment in
arts/culture has declined by £236 million, a huge decrease of 17% since 2010. While English local government
still spent £1.2 billion on arts and culture in 2014/15, the cuts remain significant and are
likely to continue. The Arts Council addressed the subject in a speech by their Chair, Sir Peter
Bazalgette, made to local authorities in the Spring. He suggested collaborative
working to develop new, creative and innovative solutions ‘to sustain the vital cultural life of our communities’ (well yes, our arts community have been walking that road, with considerable
success, for quite some time). He went on to talk about the many local
authorities already finding new ways to support arts and culture in their
areas, and how the Arts Council will continue to ‘deploy funds in dynamic and imaginative ways’. Good to hear. This AC support appears initially to comprise two new funds
which focus on diversity in art and culture, addressing what they see as a lack
of diversity in arts leadership, and the need to support Black and minority
ethnic ‘theatre makers’. These are admirable initiatives which are to be applauded.
And it is to be hoped that further support will be forthcoming for the artists, creators and performers, like those featured in this issue, who are already making a big cultural difference in our communities, and have been doing
so, in many cases, for years.
Fran Goss Editor