Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society

Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society by John Knell and Matthew Taylor

The arts sector urgently needs to strengthen its funding case, otherwise it will be ill prepared to fight its corner during the tough fiscal decade ahead. Debates about funding have become entrenched, with the sector over-emphasising 'arts for arts sake' arguments, while policymakers search for crude impacts.

'Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society' is published to coincide with the second State of the Arts conference. In developing a more transparent debate about how to best allocate public funds, it recommends strengthening the case for both artistic and public good instrumentalism. This will require:

  • more precise definitions of artistic excellence;
  • new approaches to engagement;
  • strengthening the networks that link elite arts producers to amateurs and fans; and
  • a better account of the relationship between artistic participation and individual and social outcomes.

The pamphlet concludes that the sector urgently needs to develop a stronger evidence base demonstrating the impact of the arts in fields such as mental health, education and civic engagement.

This is the fourth in the RSA's series of pamphlets on 21st century enlightenment. It aims to deepen understanding and generate public discussion as well as enrich the Society’s thinking about its own role in fostering local networks in the name of progress.

Download Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society pamphlet (PDF, 229KB)


Other RSA Pamphlets

21st century enlightenment by Matthew Taylor

The Woolwich model by Ben Rogers

N squared - Public policy and the power of networks by Paul Ormerod

RSA Transitions