Britain’s arts industries were today given a chilling foretoken to the tumultuous years ahead as the UK culture department (DCMS) announced plans for extraordinary cuts.
In a package of measures that will send shockwaves across the entertainment sectors, the DCMS announced it would merge, reduce and eliminate many of its 55 public bodies.
The UK Film Council is to be abolished under the plans, with the coalition government now relying on its link with the British Film Institute. The DCMS has told Develop, however, that film tax breaks will remain in place.
The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council will also be scrapped, as will the Advisory Council on Libraries, the
Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites, and the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships.
The Theatres Trust will be declassified, and the DCMS is considering the roles numerous other groups in the fields of architecture, church conservation, tourism and gambling.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said “many of these bodies were set up a considerable length of time ago, and times and demands have changed.”
The enormity of the cuts taking place could be seen as a bleak wake-up call for Britain’s games industry, which is calling for enhanced state support, and could soon lose the support it gets from the under-fire regional development agencies (RDAs).
Steve Iles, the founder of film and game production group Spirit Entertainment, said the severe cuts were “further proof of how much trouble we are in as a nation”.
“There just isn’t money for a new tax break scheme,” he said.
“It’s a complete waste of time trying to get money from a pot that has no money in it. We need to educate investment businesses and angel investors about the risks of this business,” he added.
“We need to explain how we can de-risk it, and improve relations with the investment community. There’s relatively little interest from Britain’s private sector to invest in videogames”.
The government insists that key functions of the affected groups will be carried over to other public bodies. It adds, however, that it continues to look across its arm’s length bodies and “explore further opportunities to improve accountability and efficiency”.