Arts funding: winners and losers

Arts Council England announces its new funding plans after cuts to its budget.

Arts Council England yesterday revealed the effects of a 29.6 per cent government cut to arts funding. 638 organisations were denied any funding by the Council, with 206 of those having previously received funding from them. However, 110 organisations were granted funding by the Council for the first time.

Small theatres received a little extra funding: FUEL is up by 203.9 per cent, Ockham's Raxor by 173.2 per cent, Punchdrunk by 141 per cent, Arcola by 100 per cent, the Barbican by 108 per cent and Theatre by the Lake in Keswick by 22 per cent. However, the Riverside Trust Hammersmith, lost almost half a million pounds, both the RSC and the National Theatre lost 15 per cent funding, and Shared Experience Theatre, Trestle Theatre Company and Northumberland Tourinc Company all suffered cuts. HighTide Festival Theatre, Birmingham's live art Fierce festival and Manchester International Festival are all new recipients of Council funding, whilst both Northcott Theatre, Exeter and Forkbeard Fantasy, Bristol lost all of their funding.

British poetry suffered mixed fortunes. Salt Publishing, an independent poetry publishing house based in Cambridge, lost all funding while the Poetry Book Society, founded by TS Eliot in 1953, suffered a £111,000 loss. Poetry London, the literary magazine, was given a grant, as was English PEN, which works to "promote literature and human rights". The Poetry Society was awarded £360,000 - up from £261,664.

Winners amongst art galleries included: South London Gallery, with funding up 107 per cent, and three galleries that are yet to open: FirstSite in Colchester (up 16.8 per cent), the Hepworth in Wakefield (up 7.7 per cent) and Turner Contemporary in Margate (up 9.8 per cent). A Middlesbrough gallery, Mima, had its funding increased by 143.8 per cent. Both Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, and Phoenix Arts in Leicester had funding totally withdrawn.

Dance suffered significant cuts, though with increased funding going to a collection of small, regional operations. Dance Umbrella, based in central London, took a 43 per cent reduction, and the Cholmondeleys & Featherstonehaughs dance companies saw their funding completely cut.

Although the fledgling Tête à Tête opera gained funding for the first time, the Royal Opera House took a 15 per cent cut to their money.

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The worst Oscar-winning films of all time

How hated movies have grabbed their space in the spotlight. 

Whilst the biggest surprise at last night’s Oscars was undoubtedly the part where they weren’t sure who’d actually won Best Picture, Suicide Squad also raised a few eyebrows. The critically-panned superantihero non-classic managed to take home an Academy Award, albeit in the category of Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Which raises the question: is Suicide Squad the worst film to have ever won an Oscar?

Obviously, the quality of a film is an ultimately subjective measure. Suicide Squad is someone’s favourite movie; every film is someone’s favourite movie, except for Sex Lives of the Potato Men. But if we want to get an "objective" view, one was is to look at a measure of the critical consensus, like Tomatometer on the website Rotten Tomatoes, which counts the percentage of good and bad reviews a film has received from critics.

Here, Suicide Squad ranks at a lowly 26 per cent (with such glowing lines as the Wall Street Journal’s “an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment”), which is one of the lowest scores an Academy Award-winning movie has ever received. But not the lowest.

Michael Bay’s historically dubious epic Pearl Harbor, which managed a win for Best Sound Editing, has a rating of just 25 per cent. As well as its Oscar, Pearl Harbor won Worst Picture at "anti-Oscars" The Razzies, the first film to do so that also had one of the real awards.

This kind of "technical" award is a good route to unlikely Oscar glory. Middling John Lithgow-meets-Bigfoot comedy Harry and the Hendersons isn’t remembered as an award-winner, but it took home the gold for Harry's makeup job. It can sometimes be overlooked that most films are a massive team effort, and there's something heartwarming about the fact people can get still be rewarded for being very good at their job, even if that job is working on a mediocre-to-terrible movie.

Still, if no-one working on the actual film does their job right, you can always get someone decent to write a song. The not very good (score: 33 per cent) eighties "steel welder wants to learn ballet" movie Flashdance took an award home for the Giorgio Moroder-composed title theme. He would also later bring home a much better film’s sole award, when he penned Top Gun’s Take My Breath Away.

Picking the right song is how what may be the lowest-rated Oscar winner of all time did it: The Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor melodrama The Sandpiper has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 10 per cent, but win it did, for the song The Shadow of Your Smile (which isn’t even actually very good; Burt Bacharach’s What's New Pussycat? was robbed.)

Even an Oscar winner that is praised by contemporaries can be undone by the cruelty of time. One of the lowest-scoring winners is 1936’s Anthony Adverse, at just 13 per cent - not only did it win for Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress, Best Soundtrack and Best Editing, it was nominated for Best Picture. But however praised the historical epic might have been at the time, because Rotten Tomatoes aggregates reviews from online media, it does not appear to have dated well.

Perhaps awards can only ever reflect the critical mood of the time - Singin’ In The Rain has a 100 per cent Tomatometer score, but took home no Oscars. Best Picture that year went to The Greatest Show On Earth, now judged a 44 per cent mediocrity. Perhaps by the 2080s film critics will be stunned that the newly re-appreciated acting masterclass Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest only won for its visual effects, be baffled that the lauded classic Suicide Squad wasn’t a Best Picture contender, and be absolutely 100 per cent certain that Jared Leto was the finest actor of his generation. Maybe the apocalypse wouldn’t be so bad after all.