Arts Council ‘too posh for pop’ – UK Music CEO

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Arts Council England‘s funding policy has been branded ‘deeply flawed and unfair’ as new figures reveal huge inequalities in the way the organisation allocates taxpayers’ money.

According to Michael Dugher, CEO of UK Music, the umbrella body for the UK music industry, Arts Council England is ‘too posh for pop’. Dugher has demanded an urgent review of how the organisation’s money is spent.

Arts Council England (ACE) is in charge of sharing out £1.45 billion of public funds and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery between 2018 and 2022 to ‘champion, develop and invest in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives’.

However, UK Music’s analysis of the allocations of the £368 million available to music in an ACE fund reveals that opera gets £8 of taxpayers’ cash for every £1 awarded to pop music.

Only 8 per cent of taxpayers’ money awarded by ACE in the National Portfolio funding allocation for music for 2018-22 goes to bids related to popular music. Brass bands, jazz, world music, folk and choral music also get ‘a raw deal’ compared to opera, registering a combined total of just four per cent for producing music enjoyed by millions.

This makes a stark comparison with the 62 per cent enjoyed by opera and 23 per cent allocated to classical music.

‘Shocking disparities’

Michael Dugher said:

‘Analysis by UK Music of Arts Council England official figures shows some shocking disparities in the way taxpayers’ money is allocated to music.

‘Opera is a key part of our vibrant and diverse cultural scene in the UK and many of our members are classical musicians. But the current way money is allocated is manifestly unjust and should be urgently reviewed to ensure all types of music are treated fairly.

‘It is indefensible that pop music gets just £1 for every £8 of taxpayers’ cash that is awarded by the Arts Council to opera under its National Portfolio. The Arts Council risks giving the impression that it is elitist and too posh for pop.

‘Public funds should be used to broaden the appeal of the arts, particularly among the young, and make every aspect of our fantastic culture more inclusive.

‘The UK music industry contributes £4.4 billion a year to the UK economy – with live music alone contributing more than £1 billion. But it is vital that we nurture our talent pipeline to bring on the next generation to follow in the footsteps of our world-famous stars like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy. The Arts Council has an important role to play in talent development so the UK maintains its position as a global leader in popular music, but the way it currently allocates its funding is deeply flawed and unfair.’

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