Landscape Report: Spotlight on Culture

Published on: June 16th 2022


Community Leisure UK is calling for ring-fenced financial support for culture to be extended beyond that of statutory library services.

The member association for Charitable Trust in the UK has released its latest “Landscape Reports: Spotlight On Culture” which highlights big challenges facing cultural programmes and facilities, including: 

  • A change in audience habits – more than a third of pre-Covid audiences are still not comfortable with attending arts and culture events.
  • The cost of living crisis poses a new risk to culture, with inflation at a 40-year high, public spending power has decreased significantly and attendance at arts and cultural events have stagnated. There is significant concern for the viability of public culture services where people are choosing to spend their money less on leisure and on more vital purchases such as food and electricity.
  • With cultural programmes taking place in energy hungry venues such as libraries, theatres and heritage venues, the increase in energy prices is also creating a problem. There has been an unprecedented increase  in CLUK members’ utility bills with the most recent data from England showing an average increase of 89% as compared to 2019.
  • A loss of skilled staff as a result of people finding new jobs during the pandemic, as well as a lack of part-time staff due to the increase in the cost of living.

Reduced income from a lack of returning customers, increased costs of operations, the cost of living crisis and staffing shortages, when combined, create a crisis point for the cultural trust sector.

Phil Rumbelow, Chairman of Community Leisure UK, said: “The positive contribution of arts and culture activity on people’s health and wellbeing is well-documented, but the lack of long-term commitment of funding is currently putting the sustainability of these valuable services at risk. 

“This will inevitably lead to difficult decisions being made around which service to run and which services are no longer viable or need to operate with reduced hours.”

“Culture Trusts have welcomed the significant government support during the past two years through the Culture Recovery Fund and the Performing Arts Venus Relief Fund in Scotland, and we now need to ensure that this public investment is protected for the future and ensure the sustainability of cultural services. 

“For this to happen, local authorities need to be enabled and financially supported to prioritise investment in public culture, with budgets ring fenced beyond the support of statutory library services, and in line with their own health and wellbeing and local development plans.”
Read the full reports