Tomorrow morning Somerset county council will decide whether it will cut 100% of its direct grants to the arts, amounting to roughly half its total cultural spend.
Mustn\’t allow them to do that now, must we? You know, democratically elected politicians deliberating over how to spend the taxpayers\’ money? No, of course not, that would be letting this accountability, localism, shit to get well out of hand.
The National Campaign for the Arts estimates that every £1 of grant given to the arts brings a fifteen-fold return in investment into the county – a £3.75m contribution. The creative industries in Somerset employ more than 8,000 people with an annual turnover greater than £345m. This economic argument would stand, even if the arts development budget wasn\’t reported to be £159,000 – 0.0004% of the Council\’s overall expenditure.
It\’s also 0.05% of total turnover is the subsidy. The sort of amount that is simply a rounding error. I would be amazed if the recipients are not spending more than that on applying for the grants.