Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: 23 April 2009

Inquiry into the Funding of the Arts in Northern Ireland

23 April 2009

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley
Lord Browne
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Mr Nelson McCausland
Mr Pat Ramsey
Mr Ken Robinson
Mr Jim Shannon

The Chairperson (Mr McElduff):

I invite the Committee Researcher to make a presentation on European funding of arts and culture.

The Committee Researcher:

I am here to brief the Committee on the levels of funding provided for arts and culture in various European countries. I will highlight individual countries’ approaches to funding and the mechanisms that they use to contribute to the arts and culture sector. A previous presentation outlined the funding levels in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Today, I will focus on other European countries.

A report entitled ‘Financing the Arts and Culture in the European Union’ contends that, in most countries, state spending on culture refers only to figures provided by their culture ministries and ignores the contributions that are made by other ministries. The report states that information is mostly presented out of context. Data collection on public expenditure for culture from secondary sources suffers from limitations, such as a lack of coherent definitions of culture on a national and a local level and differences in research methodologies that often result in inconsistencies and gaps. Eurostat’s definition of culture includes creative arts, museums and archives, the performing arts, libraries, film and video, without broadcasting and art education. Eurostat suggested that the average national spending on culture of the 27 EU countries as a percentage of GDP for the period 2000 to 2005 varied from 0.3% to 1.2% .

In 2006, however, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) considered a broader concept of culture, which suggested that the variation in average national spending on culture of European countries was between 0·4% and 2%. The OECD places Luxembourg and Denmark at the top end of the GDP percentage spending scale and Greece at the bottom. The report showed an increase in public spending on culture in Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg and Portugal and a decrease in public spending on culture in Germany and Sweden.

There are differences in preferences among the EU countries in the allocation of public spending on culture. For example, spending on cultural heritage and museums is highly prioritised in Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Performing arts, including music, theatre and dance, are primarily subsidised in Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Denmark, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.

Arts and culture are supported by private foundations in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The European Foundation Centre (EFC) defines a foundation or trust as:

“an independent, separately constituted, no-profit body with its own governing board and with its own source of income, whether or not exclusively from an endowment”.

Cultural activities are widely supported by private foundations in Germany, especially those that operate at local levels. Portugal also has a tradition of private-foundation support. In Belgium, support from foundations amounted to €15 million to €16 million in 2000, representing 13% of the total budget of private foundations. Indeed, in the Netherlands, support to culture by private associations and foundations can represent as much as 2% of total cultural expenditure.

Lottery funding provides additional sources of financial support to culture and the arts across Europe. However, the lack of impact or evaluation studies on lottery funding for culture allows for only general observations to be made. The stability of lottery funding is not ensured by any measure. The Finnish model could provide a solution; the Finnish Government compensates for lottery shortcomings.

In the United Kingdom, 33·4% of total lottery revenues are devoted to the arts and heritage. In Poland, lottery money was given to cultural enterprises and cultural investments, representing 46% and 19% of total lottery funding respectively. In the Flanders community in Belgium, 72% of lottery funds to arts and culture support the performing arts; 12·5% of lottery funds are spent on social cultural work, and 9% of lottery funds are spent on museums.

I will list European countries and the value added to national GDP through culture. In Denmark, the value added to national GDP was 5·3% in 2000-01; in the United Kingdom, the value added was 6·8% in 2001, which represented €85 billion; in Finland, the value added was 3·8% in 2002, which represented €4·3 billion. In Latvia, the value added was 4% in 2004, which represented €0·3 billion; in Sweden, the value added was 9% in 2000-01, which represented €17·1 billion; in Lithuania, the value added was 0·2% in 2002, which represented €0·04 billion; and, in Poland, the value added was 5·2% in 2002, which represented €17·3 billion.

The Chairperson:

Thanks very much. Do members have any questions on the comprehensive information that has been provided by Research and Library Services on the various regional approaches to funding?

Mr K Robinson:

There was specific mention of Flanders and the Flemish community in Belgium. Do the Walloons, the French-speaking folk, have a separate cultural input?

The Committee Researcher:

The EU report from which the information is taken has divided those communities into two separate entities. However, the Flanders community seems to be more proactive in recording and monitoring statistics and is, therefore, listed in the report. The Walloons have a separate cultural identity, but, in the report, their statistics are subsumed. The statistics for the Flanders community are slightly better and more robust.

The Chairperson:

Your evidence will feed into our inquiry. Thanks very much; we are very grateful

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