Created in Birmingham has welcome news of a temporary £44.5m boost to UK arts funding. It should just about mop up the severe and ongoing decline in business/trust sponsorship of the arts, caused by the recession and the ruinous decline in interest earned on bank deposits. At least for this year.

So far as I can tell, the £44.5m is nothing much to do with the recent loss to the arts of £4m in the Budget, arising from the cuts to the DCMS.

So where the cash coming from? Most of this £44.5m booster package would seem to be the result of recent National Audit Office-inspired changes to UK law, meaning that the Arts Council can no longer massively stash away Lottery proceeds for a rainy day — and instead has to distribute its Lottery funds ASAP. A report from the Council for the Advancement of Arts, Recreation and Education concluded that Lottery organisations were sitting on a…

“£1.7bn surplus intended for good causes” [ and that ] “The Arts Council of England has £155m in its bank accounts”

That figure was also reported as “£152 million” by April 08. I wonder where the other (roughly) £100m is? Hopefully being primed and primped for release in 2010/11, and not already siphoned away to help pay for the Olympics.

(Previously on D’log: after the last round of cuts the press eventually found out that Grants for the Arts were to be cut in total terms from May 08, down by 7.4%.)