“Shocking” arts funding cuts by 16% in real terms across the UK

24th June 2024

Over the years, we have seen dramatic cuts to funding for the arts from national bodies. It wasn’t until I saw the results of a recent review carried out by Equity that showed the stark cuts to the arts made over the last seven years.

In its research, Equity found that ‘since 2017 arts funding from national bodies (Arts Councils in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, alongside Creative Scotland) has been cut by 16% in real terms across the UK.’

I’m in total agreement with Olivia Colman who says the results are “shocking”. These cuts will continue to have a detrimental impact on many theatres, companies, artists, performers, playwrights, and all those working in the industry. Not forgetting those who visit the theatre for joy, inspiration, entertainment and improved mental health.

Unable to secure financial support to bring new work to audiences is depriving theatre makers of doing just that, making theatre, telling stories, bringing people’s imaginations to life, and engaging with others from all around the country.

It is as though the funding decision-makers just don’t take our industry seriously or know our true worth. We are slowly being neglected, even though we’re worth around £126bn to the economy each year.

We know from our past research that it is already incredibly difficult for smaller communities to get funding, with many local councils on the brink of bankruptcy and prioritising their spend away from the arts.

Because of this, our creatives are in crisis and our communities are suffering. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of support available to our local theatre makers.

Playwrights attempting to commission new plays are also having a turbulent time and finding it increasingly difficult to get the support they need.

Having been part of the arts industry for many years, we have seen firsthand just how damaging these continual cuts and lack of support have been to so many.

This is why we set up ‘Taking The Stage’ – a festival that celebrates women in the arts and theatre industry – with great thanks from Arts Council England for their support.

We use local venue, MK Gallery, to host a variety of events from discussions on industry hot topics with key women from theatre, to showcasing new work from female playwrights and young people and more.

We give this platform to women from within our community and industry to take to the stage and share their stories, ask questions, start discussions, and enjoy meeting and building relationships with others from the arts. It is a fantastic opportunity.

Now in its third year, Taking The Stage will return to MK Gallery on 16th – 19th October with a full line up of inspirational women from theatre, including Winsome Pinnock, Suzette Coon, Jenny Sealey, Polly Kemp, Jennifer Tuckett, Subika Anwar Khan and many more.

Further information and tickets will be available very soon.

We wanted to use our Arts Council Funding to support others within the industry and give them the vital space they need to create theatre, have important conversations, and not only inspire but also be inspired.

We wouldn’t have been able to do this without help from Arts Council England, and for that we are very grateful.

Without precious funding, the arts are not going to survive. Many of us rely on funding to be able to bring new writing, productions, and more to the stage. We all know that the arts contribute greatly to the economy as well as to our health and well-being, so why aren’t we getting the funding we urgently need?

With the General Election just around the corner, it’s imperative that the party that comes in has arts and theatre on its agenda and takes art funding seriously.

Arts and culture must be at the heart of every community, we can’t give up.