The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) recently issued a response to the conclusions and recommendations of a Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s report on funding of the arts and heritage.
They stated that “the DCMS remains wholly committed to the arts and heritage, especially during dificult economic circumstances”.
However, in response to the committee’s comment that:
We are concerned that the heritage sector has already suffered disproportionately and is ill placed to sustain further reductions in funding. We also note that, unlike much of the arts, once lost the heritage can never be replaced. We urge the Government to take strong account of this in future funding settlements. (Paragraph 174)
The Government responsed:
The Department notes the recommendation. Although there were reductions in funding to DCMS’ sponsored bodies, the heritage sector will greatly benefit from the Government’s decision to return the lottery shares to their original levels. This will result in an extra £50m every year and means that overall funding will be reduced by only 2.4% which is a real achievement during these difficult economic times.
RESCUE says: Rescue endorses the comments of the select committee and notes that the Government’s response is inadequate in that it confuses the type of project funding that is supported by the National Lottery with the core funding of the infrastructure necessary to support such projects. In particular RESCUE would draw the government’s attention to the ongoing decline of our local and regional museums and the attacks on the network of Historic Environment Records resulting from cuts to local authority budgets. In addition cuts to the budget of English Heritage by the previous and present governments now comprise 43% of their total budget since 2000. The conditions attached to Lottery funding prevent it being used to replace such core funding and the net result is a decline in the effectiveness of provision for the protection, presentation and enhancement of the historic environment. This inevitably results in a loss of tourist revenue (both international and internal), diminished educational and cultural benefits from the historic environment and has a direct impact on the quality of the projects supported by Lottery funding. Given that abundant evidence is available to substantiate these observations, the Government’s response highlights the extent to which ministers and civil servants are out of touch with the heritage sector and fail to understand its nature and potential.