Cash-strapped orchestras will be able to apply for an emergency grant as part of a new Arts Council England rescue fund designed to help the most hard up of its 900 beneficiaries through the current economic downturn. Grants of up to £3 million will be available – potential recipients include the Royal Opera House, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera.
The recession has fallen hard in the arts, causing cuts in both private funding and ticket sales. Recent figures compiled by Arts & Business, an organisation that liaises between commerce and culture, show that 40% of arts organisations have experienced a drop in public funding and 43% a drop in funding from trusts and foundations so far this year.
In spite of a £4 million cut from its £467 million annual government budget this week, the Arts Council has decided to go ahead with the ambitious rescue plan by dipping into its Lottery funding reserves. ‘It’s not a bail-out,’ insists Dame Liz Forgan, chairman of the Arts Council in The Times. ‘We thought it was our job if we possibly could to find the money to stand ready to help excellent organisations who, through no fault of their own, are seeing important work threatened.’