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Cutting culture

Are the arts an easy target for spending cuts?

Ed Jacobs has an interesting post over at Left Foot Forward asking if the arts are being lined up as an "easy hit" as government departments contemplate George Osborne's goal of reducing spending by 25 per cent across Whitehall. He offers in evidence £5m's worth of cuts recently announced by the Arts Council and the Arts Council for Wales's announcement this week that 32 arts organisations (including the Hay Festival of Literature) are to have their funding removed.

As Jacobs points out, this is all of a piece with calls by the new Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, for arts organisations to explore alternatives to public funding. Back in March, I blogged on a debate in which Hunt participated, and during which he argued that ensuring a "multiplicity of funding sources" was essential in straitened economic circumstances, and that the Conservatives would "boost philanthropy".

Hunt says he supports, as his Labour predecessor Ben Bradshaw supported, the "mixed economy" in arts funding, but it's becoming clear that he (and his colleague, the Chancellor) think philanthropy and endowments, on the American model, should account for a much larger portion of the mix.