News Register for our weekly news digest here.

The Palace of Westminster. Photo: Maurice/Flickr.
The Palace of Westminster. Photo: Maurice/Flickr.

Protest over UK Government Plan to Slash Arts Education Funding by Half

The UK arts community is up in arms over the British government’s plan to reduce funding for arts education by 50 percent at higher learning institutions such as colleges and universities for the 2021–22 school year, The Art Newspaper reports. Consultation regarding the scheme, which was first announced in January by education secretary Gavin Williamson, ends May 6. As a result, artists, curators, educators, and musicians are among those making a fierce last effort to prevent the cuts, which are based on the Office for Students’ (OFS) assessment of the arts as “high cost” and of lesser priority than subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which it considers “high cost” and also “high value.”

Among the subjects not considered “strategic” priorities by the government are dance, drama, performing arts, media studies, art and design, and archaeology. Under the proposed plan, funding for these subjects would be reduced from £36 million ($50 million) to £19 million ($26 million), within an overall budget that has increased slightly over the previous year, from £1.47 billion to £1.48 billion. With the UK already facing what has been characterized as a “two-year artistic hiatus” in the wake of Brexit, the results of the reduced funding could have a catastrophic effect on the UK arts scene and on its standing in the broader art world.

A petition launched by the Public Campaign for the Art calling for the government to abandon the cuts, recognize the value of the arts, and commit to sustained funding for arts-related subjects had gained more than thirty-five thousand signatures by late day May 5.

“This is an attack on the future of UK arts, the creative potential of the next generation, and the people who deliver our world-leading arts courses,” wrote the organizers of the petition. “Rather than segregating and devaluing the arts in this way, the Government should maintain its important investment in creative skills, ensuring that arts courses are widely accessible and properly supported.”

The OFS has said that it will take into consideration responses from universities and students before making a decision.

ALL IMAGES

LATEST NEWS