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The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Photo: US Embassy London/Flickr.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Photo: US Embassy London/Flickr.

London Arts Organizations See National Funding Slashed

Major cultural institutions across London are facing extreme budget cuts as funding from Arts Council England moves to suburban areas and smaller cities around the country at the behest of the UK government. From 2023, regional arts organizations in seventy-eight municipalities outside London will see a 95 percent increase in funding, with £32 million ($36.7 million) extracted from monies typically allotted to the capital city’s cultural institutions, and an extra £43.5 million set to be disbursed annually to the regional organizations for the next three years.

The redistribution, ordered earlier this year by then culture secretary Nadine Dorries and announced by ACE chair Nicholas Serota at a November 4 press conference, leaves London arts institutions facing a total loss of more than £50 million. “We’ve just simply had to make some invidious choices about where we fund the most,” said Serota at the event.

ACE expects to disburse £446 million annually between 2023 and 2026 across 990 cultural organizations, including eighty-two museums, twenty-eight of them new, and 159 visual arts organizations, of which twenty-three are recently established. London organizations are in line for £152 million, roughly one third of all distributed funds, and thus remains the UK’s most heavily funded region.

Despite this, the massive cuts are bound to have a tremendous effect on the city’s renowned cultural institutions. Among those seeing tremendous losses in the 2023–26 funding period as compared to that of 2018–22 are the Serpentine Galleries, which will see an annual decrease of £485,725; the Camden Arts Centre, which will be down £319,673 per year; and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, which will sustain an annual loss of £184,131.

"Many of our world-leading cultural organizations will be left devastated by this announcement of over £50m worth of government cuts to London’s arts funding. These cuts could not have come at a worse time as arts organizations already face a triple whammy of spiraling operating costs, soaring energy bills, and the impact of both the pandemic and the cost of living crisis on audience figures,” said London mayor Sadiq Khan in a statement.

“London’s cultural organizations contribute billions and power our capital’s economic comeback as well as the wider UK economy every year, which is why they need continued investment,” he noted. “A strong London equals a strong UK. That’s why I am urging the government to think again and reconsider the consequences of these detrimental cuts.”