Lottery, arts and community: a new concordat?


Commentary and briefings from the Axisweb team

Sheila McGregor welcomes the debate provoked by PLACE, a new report about the unequal distribution of arts Lottery funding
Last month saw the publication of The PLACE Report (Policy for the Lottery, the Arts and Community in England) by Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon and David Powell, the triumvirate of seasoned arts administrators whose allegations last autumn of a London bias in arts funding policy provoked a media furore.

Their latest report draws attention to the inherently unfair social and geographic distribution of Lottery funding, something we’ve all known about for a long time but have largely chosen to ignore. It is stating the obvious to point out that the majority of people who buy Lottery tickets are poor, while the people who mainly benefit from it (gallery-visitors, theatre-goers, opera-lovers, heritage-aficionados) are prosperous. But the geographic inequality that lies behind the distribution of Lottery funds is less well documented.

Among other findings, the PLACE Report highlights the fact that five organisations (The Royal Opera House, Royal National Theatre, English National Opera, Sadler’s Wells and the Southbank Centre) have received more Arts Lottery funding since 1995 than the 33 local authority areas whose communities are least engaged with the arts. The local authority area with the poorest return is County Durham, where Lottery players have contributed £34 million since 1995 in return for grants worth only £12 million……….

……The subject of the next Stark, Gordon and Powell report will be the individual practitioner. I can only say, bring it on!

Sheila McGregor, May 2014

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