The Arts Council delays its 2023-26 investment program without providing an explanation

The Royal Opera House in London (PA archive)

The Royal Opera House in London (PA archive)

Arts Council England is delaying announcing its 2023-26 investment program decisions – which detail the amount of funding it will provide to cultural organizations across the country – and has offered no explanation.

The Council simply said the decision was made “following discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)”. The initial announcement was due to take place tomorrow.

The Arts Council added that the announcement will be made “as soon as possible” in “the next few days”.

Darren Henley, Managing Director of ACE, said, “We count on everyone who is awaiting the outcome of their funding application. We recognize the importance of giving organizations the certainty to enable business planning and we know that delay will cause disruption.

“We thank everyone for their patience. We are working with DCMS to reschedule this announcement as soon as possible.”

Arts organizations across the country are eager to know how much funding they will receive or if they face cuts or are pulled out of the portfolio altogether.

The Investment Program provides funding in three streams – to National Portfolio Organizations (NPOs), Investment Principles Supporting Organizations (IPSOs), and Transfer Program Organizations. NPOs are considered organizations that are “leaders in their field”, such as the National Theater and the Royal Opera House in London.

Other London NPOs include the Almeida Theatre, English National Opera, Graeae Theater Company, London Symphony Orchestra, Museum of London and Horniman, the Art Fund’s 2022 Museum of the Year.

The scheme provides for an investment over a period of three years. There are 828 NPOs in the current portfolio, which will end at the end of March next year. There have been up to 1,700 applications for the 2023-26 program.

London institutions were particularly concerned about the upcoming announcement as Nadine Dorries, who served as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for a year under Boris Johnson, spoke in February of hijacking capital arts funding.

She said: “Over the past decades a huge amount of money has been poured into London-based organisations, while other parts of the country have not received their fair share. That’s about to change.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The government’s decision to drastically cut funding to London’s arts organizations will not only deal a devastating blow to our city’s creative sector, but will also hurt the UK’s recovery from the post this pandemic…”

However, Tory MP Michelle Donelan, the current Culture Secretary, did not make similar statements to Dorries.

The delay could be the result of the various changes taking place in Downing Street, with Liz Truss stepping down on Friday and Rishi Sunak taking over as Prime Minister yesterday. The prime minister is due to announce his cabinet in the coming days.

Following the pushback, there will no longer be a press conference on the decisions of the 2023-26 investment program. Instead, there will be a “digital event”. Further details on this event should follow.

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