Arts Council to use 'historic reserves' to soften blow of £23m cuts
Arts Council England has outlined where the axe will fall as it implements £19 million in "painful" cuts to its income.
The savings, announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport last month, come on top of an earlier in-year reduction of £4 million.
The Arts Council said its original 2010/11 budget had therefore been slashed by £23 million from £468 million to £445 million.
The body said it has shielded its regularly funded organisations (RFOs) to some extent by taking the "exceptional" step of using £9 million from its "historic reserves" cash, which it has drawn down with Government permission.
The RFOs, of which there are just over 800, will face a cut of 0.5% - an average of £2,000 each. The Arts Council said that had the £9 million not been used, the organisations would have been hit with a 3% cut.
RFOs will bear the reductions in their final payments of the year, in most cases the quarterly payment due in January 2011, to give them as much time as possible to adjust.
Dame Liz Forgan, chairwoman of Arts Council England, acknowledged that for some RFOs, the reductions would pose a "serious issue but we hope that it will not be so difficult that it can't be managed.
"We've been able to do that because we are making exceptional use of £9 million from the Arts Council's historic reserves."
She said rules for the reserves were governed by the Treasury "and we are not free to use our reserves without permission ... we've had access blocked to those reserves previously but some of them have now been made available.
"We have used that access to our reserves to make it possible to limit the cut that we have to make to our regularly funded organisations."
She said the arrangements had the "full backing" of Arts Council members.
Arts Council England's budget for the three years covering 2011 to 2014 is expected to be decided this autumn.
The body said that in making the cuts it had sought to protect art and the organisations who develop it "to the fullest extent possible".
The organisation will cut £1.8 million from the grants of the two highest-funded organisations which do not directly produce art - £1.6 million from Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) and £0.2 million from Arts & Business.
It will slash an extra £0.4 million from the Arts Council's operating costs, bringing savings in this area to £6.9 million this year.
The body said it will also make £6 million in savings through measures including putting off a planned major project to engage the public and cutting cash for working in partnership with local authorities and the private sector.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport had already announced a raft of cuts as part of plans to save £73 million, including pulling the plug on funding for the British Film Institute Film Centre and cancelling its Stonehenge visitor centre plans.
Paul Collard, CCE chief executive, said: "As a charity, the cut of £1.6 million to our in-year funding from the Arts Council has been very painful for us at Creativity, Culture and Education.
"However, after much hard work we have managed to achieve these cuts within the organisation without impacting on the schools and children involved in the Creative Partnerships creative learning programme."
He said future cuts could not be made "without a dramatic impact on the children and young people in schools who currently benefit from creative partnerships."
He added: "It is important that the Government recognises the value of engaging children and young people with the arts through creative and cultural education - this is vital for lifelong involvement with the arts, and independent evidence has proven that our work helps to raise attainment levels, improve attendance and increase pupil motivation, particularly for schools in challenging circumstances."