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 Both Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, and Phoenix Arts in Leicester had funding totally withdrawn.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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Harry Styles: What can three blank Instagram posts tell us about music promotion?

Do the One Direction star’s latest posts tell us about the future of music promotion in the social media age - or take us back to a bygone era?

Yesterday, Harry Styles posted three identical, captionless blank images to Instagram. He offered no explanation on any other social network, and left no clue via location serves or tagged accounts as to what the pictures might mean. There was nothing about any of the individual images that suggested they might have significance beyond their surface existence.

And, predictably, they brought in over a million likes – and thousands of Styles fans decoding them with the forensic dedication of the cast of Silent Witness.

Of course, the Instagrams are deliberately provocative in their vagueness. They reminded me of Robert Rauschenberg’s three-panelled White Painting (1951), or Robert Ryman’s Untitled, three square blank canvases that hang in the Pompidou Centre. The composer John Cage claimed that the significance of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings lay in their status as receptive surfaces that respond to the world around them. The significance of Styles’s Instagrams arguably, too, only gain cultural relevance as his audience engages with them.

So what did fans make of the cryptic posts? Some posited a modelling career announcement would follow, others theorised that it was a nod to a Taylor Swift song “Blank Space”, and that the former couple would soon confirm they were back together. Still more thought this suggested an oncoming solo album launch.

You can understand why a solo album launch would be on the tip of most fans’ tongues. Instagram has become a popular platform for the cryptic musical announcement — In April, Beyoncé teased Lemonade’s world premiere with a short Instagram video – keeping her face, and the significance behind the title Lemonade, hidden.

Creating a void is often seen as the ultimate way to tease fans and whet appetites. In June last year, The 1975 temporarily deleted their Instagram, a key platform in building the band’s grungy, black and white brand, in the lead up to the announcement of their second album, which involved a shift in aesthetic to pastel pinks and bright neons.

The Weekend wiped his, too, just last week – ahead of the release of his new single “Starboy”. Blank Instagrams are popular across the network. Jaden Smith has posted hundreds of them, seemingly with no wider philosophical point behind them, though he did tweet in April last year, “Instagram Is A BlackHole Of Time And Energy.”

The motive behind Harry’s blank posts perhaps seems somewhat anticlimactic – an interview with magazine Another Man, and three covers, with three different hairstyles, to go along with it. But presumably the interview coincides with the promotion of something new – hopefully, something other than his new film Dunkirk and the latest update on his beloved tresses. In fact, those blank Instagrams could lead to a surprisingly traditional form of celebrity announcement – one that surfaces to the world via the print press.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.