George Osborne’s recent announcement that budgetary cuts meant for the arts sector won’t exceed 5% has brought solace to the art leaders. So relieved are the art leaders and museum managers that they welcomed the move which in itself is quite unusual. The general mood of exuberance can be gauged in the words of Mark Skipper, the chief executive of Northern Ballet that is based in Leeds who said things could have been far worse had the budgetary allocation cut by 15% which they were expecting.
Skipper’s company operates out of a new building that also houses some of the most beautiful dance studio space in the entire UK. The dance studios are customized as per personal tastes and offer spectacular views of the city. In contrast, Skippers own office space is one of the most basic and offers view of the car park. As for the department of work and pensions, it’s a picture of austerity located as it is in a neighbouring building that is even devoid of windows.
Skipper though is least concerned of these and is instead much more relieved by the way things panned out. It’s a 7% cut that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has suffered though it was supposed to be 8%. That’s a relief of just 1% though each percentage point matters given the total budget for Whitehall is among the smallest.
What art companies such as the Northern Ballet need to do now is forward their application to the Arts Council England to receive their share of the budget for 2015 and beyond. It was much more brutal when the stipulated allocation was cut by a massive 15% last time leaving the ballet and opera houses in a state of shock.
Northern Ballet was then forced to think of the thinkable, to bring down the number of dancers from 40 to 30 which in itself was dangerous as it could lead to performances getting cancelled.