The PLACE report: Policy for the Lottery, the Arts and Community in England, an independent report by Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon, David Powell and Steve Trow, is the second of three reports to inform the national debate on the arts and culture – particularly in advance of the celebration of the 50th anniversary next February of Jennie Lee’s White Paper, A Policy for the Arts: The First Steps, and the general election in 2015.

The PLACE report draws a clear distinction between the purposes of tax-derived funding (Arts Council England’s grant-in-aid) and the National Lottery revenue distributed by ACE (the Arts Lottery). The report focuses on the National Lottery funding distributed by ACE. It illustrates how the funding is distributed at local authority level. The authors claim that:

ACE has not followed Government Policy Directions to the lottery distributors to prioritise the most disadvantaged communities where arts engagement is lowest.

Instead, Arts lottery funding has most benefited prosperous communities with the highest level of arts engagement to the detriment of more disadvantaged communities where more lottery tickets are sold.

Arts organisations which have been the largest recipients of grant-in-aid are also now among the largest recipients of Arts Lottery funds. The ‘Additionality Principle’ – that Lottery funds should be for ‘new and additional’ activity and not act as a substitute for grant-in-aid, has been eroded.

The system is inequitable and ‘closed’ and operates to the benefit of a small number of prestigious organisations but not necessarily wider society.

The authors make two sets of recommendations to address the shortcomings they believe they have highlighted in the report: firstly, a complete overhaul of Arts Lottery funding policy, to focus on three funding streams that prioritise “the social priority of engagement with areas of disadvantage, the economic priority of dispersed cultural production, and the artistic priority of support for artists’ practice across all disciplines”; and secondly, devolution of funding to regional or “multi-authority” level with weighted allocations.

The PLACE Report will be of interest to all elected members and local government officers with a remit for arts and culture, as well as Local Enterprise Partnerships, educational establishments, local arts organisations and communities.

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