Arts organisations are facing the prospect of a double whammy of spending cuts which could be disastrous for their future, MPs warned.
Smaller groups and those located outside of bigger urban areas are vulnerable, particularly as many of the funding reductions are being implemented quickly, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee said.
And it noted mistakes by the Arts Council such as handing more than £520,000 a year to West Bromwich multi-media art gallery The Public, despite much of it not being open to the public.
While the controversy had occurred under previous management, the committee noted “the inability of the current chief executive to provide answers” to questions or “demonstrate any serious attempts to learn lessons” from the fiasco. This “did not inspire confidence in the Arts Council or its leadership”, the MPs noted.
In its report the committee said arts and heritage was one of the “greatest assets” of the nation but this was under threat and that some groups would have to close.
It said: “Across the board, we acknowledge the concerns of arts organisations about the reduction in arts spending by local authorities, in combination with spending cuts from the Arts Council and we note that the impact of this ‘double-whammy’ could be disastrous for some arts bodies.
“Although spending cuts will affect a wide range of arts organisations it is those in non-metropolitan areas and small groups, particularly, which are most at risk.
“We are disturbed at reports of the number of local authorities already coming forward with substantial cuts.
“The speed, too, with which measures are being implemented makes it very difficult for smaller projects to look at other options, and it is of great concern that so many of these could be lost.”
The report highlighted high levels of investment over the last two decades and praised the Arts Council for “supporting a myriad of groups across the whole sector”.
The report said Government funding for Arts Council England increased by 150% to £453 million in the 12 years to 2010, while funding for English Heritage fell in real terms.