Remember how the Arts Council were telling contemporary visual artists that they’ll be the core driver of future strategy through giving “priority to the visual arts in future”, just a few days ago? Now the Council appears to be /ahem/ telling the theatre industry something very similar. Which seems odd. But then performance (Theatre/Dance/Music) sucks up the overwhelming majority of arts funding, so presumably needs to be patted on the head and told to calm down. The Stage reports today…

Theatre and orchestras will form the cornerstone of Arts Council England’s bid to persuade the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to maintain investment in the cultural sector…”.

The broad thrust of the reported claim seems the same as that made for the visual arts a few days ago – ‘give us £25 million more, or our expanding theatre provision gets it in the neck’. So if the Visual Arts and Theatre are somehow simultaneously both to be the driving focus of a future UK arts policy, does that mean that arts forms such as Literature are due to plunge into an abyss of funding cuts?

Perhaps not. Although I’ve not yet seen the report(s) that these claims are based on (the last such turned out to be flimsy 11-pager when it was found online), the suspicion might be that the recent flurry of press releases is largely about desperate last-minute headline grabbing by the Council. And that what they are trying to do is to minimise the Treasury’s 2009-11 Spending Review cuts due in the Autumn. The Stage says that Lottery cash should continue to flow to the arts at broadly the present much-reduced rate. But I can’t help thinking that all these sudden launches of capacity-building strategies, evidence-base gathering strategies, and strategy strategies, should all have been ‘actioned’ and completed five years ago if they were to have had an effect on Treasury planning. [tags]creative industries[/tags]