Arts Council England’s funding decisions are based on the bounded rationality of the past

On  the 16th July 2017 the Observer reported that the Arts Council had rejected an application from the Music Venue Trust for support for venues. I am not surprised the Arts Council rejected the Music Venue Trust’s application, as the majority of the Arts Councils funding decisions are based on the bounded rationality of the past. I recently made a number of Freedom of Information enquiries asking if the Arts Council had art form policies, the answer was no. The lack of art form polices that should guide funding decisions has bedevilled the arts in England since the instigation of the National Portfolio bidding process in 2012.

The National Portfolio scheme was an abrogation of the Arts Council’s duty to ensure funding by art form on an equitable basis. The result of this flawed process is that in 2018/19, Opera will receive a total of £57.1 million of which 32.5% will be spent outside of London. Classical music will receive £19 million of which 55% is allocated to the English regions and jazz will receive a total of £1.6 million of which 30% is spent outside of London. For the avoidance of doubt 3.4 million people attend classical music concerts, 2.1 million people attend jazz concerts and 1.7 million people attend opera.

It is time that the Arts Council was put into “special measures” and its current operations rigorously reviewed