Ahead of the arts cuts announcement on Wednesday, a weighty new report on arts and heritage funding (PDF link) from the Parliamentary Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. The Public gallery in West Bromwich gets a page to itself…

“The Arts Council played a major role in a gross waste of public money during its involvement in the West Bromwich project. Mistakes have been made throughout and we were concerned at the inability of the Chief Executive to provide answers to our questions and the lack of any serious attempt to learn lessons or prevent a repetition. We consider this to be a failure of leadership at the Arts Council. It does not inspire confidence in the Arts Council. We recommend that the Arts Council undertake, and publish, an independent review of their role in the failure of the project.”

They also took evidence from BM&AG, on the impact of local authority funding cuts…

“Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries (BMAG) wrote that it was: […] facing significant reductions in its local authority core funding and is consequently reducing the range of public services it delivers in areas such as education, family and community cohesion programmes. Delivery of previously free public services such as temporary exhibitions and provision of education programmes are now reliant on charging in order to be retained, this will present a barrier for many families on low incomes as well as culturally diverse audiences, something that is particularly important in a city such as Birmingham.”

The pages on local council funding, and especially the following section titled “Regional variations” are likely to be interesting reading for those in the Midlands, with submissions from North Staffordshire (public-sector redundancies may mean less theatre goers / most philanthropists live in London and the South East) and Derbyshire (rural touring needs suitable venues, and has wider and deeper benefits to the communities it visits).

On the organisation Arts & Business…

“Arts & Business largely represented good value for money, leveraging £4 in investment for the arts for every £1 it received. We are surprised and disappointed at the Arts Council’s decision to withdraw all funding from Arts & Business after 2012”

The aim of the Arts Council here, according to evidence quoted in the report, appears to be that the Council will after 2012…

“commission work from a number of providers, including Arts & Business”

…and thus be able to screw down costs on such advice.