A list of who gets what arts funding over the next four years from cash-strapped Leeds City Council was released this afternoon.
Under a new scheme devised with the ill-fated bid to host the European Capital of Culture 2023 in mind (and the “cultural strategy” born of it), funded organisations have been divided into two distinct groups: an “investment programme” for the city’s eight big cultural hitters, and a “development programme” supporting “small to mid-scale” cultural organisations.
Of the £1.77m worth of grants that are set to be approved by a meeting of council bosses next week, £1.56m (or 88%) will go to the eight big hitters, with the remaining 12% shared between 34 other arts organisations.
The big four of the Leeds arts scene (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds Grand, Opera North and Northern Ballet) all take a financial hit compared to the previous grants triennium (2015-16 to 2017-18), but still account for over three-quarters of all arts grant spending.
Twelve new organisations have made it onto the development programme (11 of them receiving the minimum £4,000 allocation). They include Leeds Big Bookend, Jazz Leeds, Cloth Cat, the Geraldine Connor Foundations, Pyramid of Arts and Leeds Community Arts Network.
The last of these is currently in heated dispute with the council over its plans for the Carriageworks theatre (more of which in a post next week).
Among the 18 organisations who got something last time round, but nothing this time, (there’s no way of knowing if they applied for funding) are Red Ladder Theatre, Hyde Park Unity Day and arts festivals in Kirkstall, Headingley and Garforth.
Red Ladder were brought back into the Arts Council fold with a £660k grant in June last year, so won’t be that stressed, you’d imagine. If they even applied for local funding, that is.
With their considerable share of the cash come some civic obligations for the eight big hitters: they’ll be required to deliver “additional activity for the council, including specific activity in targeted locations; delivering a percentage of their work with an international focus, offer explicit support to emerging organisations, and implement plans to pay a living wage”.
There are a couple of elements of the council’s arts spending that are not covered in the above. There’s a “level 1” programme which involves no cash grant, but advice and networking help from the council’s arts team for artists either new to the city or “starting their creative journey”; and there’s £380,000 that’s been set aside in this year’s budget for a “cultural legacy” for the city.
What that legacy should be (it’s been dubbed Act II of the Leeds2023 bid) is going to be discussed by … erm … interested parties at a meeting tomorrow afternoon in the Town Hall.
Here’s chapter and verse of who’s getting what.