A new pre-budget report, published by the Local Government Association (LGA): Driving growth through local government investment in the arts. The headline claim is that…

“for every £1 spent by councils on the arts, leverage from grant aid and partnership working brings up to £4 in additional funding”

Which implicitly suggests that many Councils know this, but are grandstanding on their arts cuts in order to grab a few government-bashing headlines — only to then revoke the threat a few months later. That’s already happened in a number of places, including Stoke.

I suspect the target of the report is not the Chancellor, but those dimmer local councillors who may be tempted to rush to their Council chambers the day after the budget — ready to swing a financial chainsaw in the direction of anything that looks like “arts”.

The Department for Communities and Local Government states that “cultural” spend by local councils in England fell 7.8% in the year 2011-12. Although bear in mind that for the DCMS “cultural” can include things like sport and general leisure as well as the arts. So my guess would be that the closure of a few big swimming pools or indoor football pitches may be distorting the picture in some places? Some local councils do seem to be radically trimming their educational provision funding for museums, though, presumably hoping that the museums will make it up through sponsorship instead.