Arts Council Artholes

Please let me know if you’ve been displaced or in any way adversely effected by Arts Council funding

Yes, the funding the Arts Council distribute goes to their friends, it disappears into an rathole never to be seen by the hardworking arts business’ and individual artists. 

I’ve been communicating for well over a year now with the Arts Council, trueing to have them do a proper job of supporting the arts in Wales, rather than muddle and muddy the waters and presiding over obscene wastage of public money. 

Think on this… Life drawing for well of kids from Penarth funded by the Arts Council through a castle building business Cirw Celf at… Remember we bill students just £10pp and that includes a cuppa and sometimes a slice of cake… at… Drum rolls… £95pp And this is not a one off… It’s a relatively regular thing. 

So, I’ve been demanding that the Arts Council STOP IT and that they stop funding start ups and that they focus on developing a live schedule of those artists and arts business’ that MUST be used before any new funding is issued and that any new endeavour must utilise the existing local services rather than castle build their own, Arts Council funded, competition. 

What follows is my most recent email to the Arts Council followed but their attempts at not answering questions. Note the threat of court action. I would be grateful if you know of anyone or any business adversely effected by any publicly made grants to be in touch with me. This follows a huge amount of exchanges and an actual meeting in early 2020 which bore no fruit as the complaints procedure, the only route left open to me within the Arts Council, was totally impossible to navigate. 

To The Arts Council

That’s simply a load of waffle Richard. You know and I know that there is huge wastage in your funding of some organisations, an example being of a £95pp cost for life drawing through Cirw Celf as opposed to my existing life drawing provision at £10pp. 

Furthermore the Arts Council have gone no way to move towards outreach to arts business’ and as I have suggested create a living directory of Wales based artists and arts providers. That surely is the best use of your time and really should have been a number one priority in 2020. Without this how dodo you direct any recipient of your funding to make use of existing services? 

Nope, it’s not a challenging time. We started back delivering classes there or four weeks ago and were close to full from the get go. That is because we offer tangible services that are well received and actually wanted. We are the kind of arts business you ought to be lauding and promoting. But you never have, even when we delivered the biggest touring open exhibition of life art that Wales has ever seen, spanning three cities and with contributions from 17 year olds through to 90 year olds. Zilch. Nothing. Not even a response to my email telling the Arts Council that this was happening. 

You’ve made it clear that you cannot enforce any conditions and that in particular in regard to Cirw Celf you you could not even monitor whether they are following your guidelines. I would suggest that that is simply madness. You give the funding so you set the rules. Cirw Celf have in the main developed their own life drawing provision which has in the main displaced Cardiff Life Model Collective, a ten year old business delivering life models across Wales  too colleges, schools, private classes and individual artists. 

So, if I were the Arts Council I’d be more aware of what my funding were doing and I would be ensuring that no existing business’ were impacted by my funding. As after all, I think that any business displaced by funding from the Arts Council might well be in a position to sue the Arts Council for losses. 

If  I hear of or have witness to ANY ARTS BUSINESS being adversely effected by ANY ARTS COUNCIL FUNDING I will immediately and without recourse to any discussion make a small claim in Cardiff Courts against the Arts Council for reparations for the business and for my time. 

This is my line in the sand. Given I have given you almost a year and a half to undertake to repair the damage that the Arts Council has preside over and that the responses I get are off topic and rambling I think that my forthright nature may come as a shock to you. So be it. 

Remember, I’m watching you… 

The email exchange began with me writing this:

Hello, I am Andrew Lamb, the owner of Cardiff Life Model Collective. I am writing to ask what the Arts Council Of Wales have been doing to action the points discussed in a meeting of perhaps a couple of years ago where you agreed that you ought to be reaching out to existing business’ to: Create a database of all existing arts organisations and business’ To signpost users to these existing organisations and business’ To make clear in any grant funding to projects or individuals that existing business’ are to be used if at all possible where services need to be provided To ensure that grant funding does not adversely impact those who currently provide a service by financially enabling others to offer similar in a similar catchment area I do hope that the list is near completion and that protocols are in place to ensure that The Arts Council Of Wales are supporting existing artists and arts business’ and that the Arts Council Of Wales are not in the business of damaging those business’ that have been so hard hit by the past year. I look forward to hearing from you

From the Arts Council

Thanks your email.  My name is Louise Wright and I’m writing in response to your email sent yesterday 15 April, attached.

My colleague Cerys Thomas and I met with you on 15 January 2020. Following that I provided further email clarification in response to the concerns you raised at the meeting and in follow up correspondence that I have copied below. This outlines our role in relation to procurement and in respect of grant applicants that you specifically mention.   

Our programme of lottery funded grant making activity has been  paused over the majority of the last 12 months due to the Covid pandemic. However during this time we have focussed on providing urgent support for artists and arts organisations through our Emergency and Stabilisation Funding programmes and, more recently, in partnership with Welsh Government,  further support for organisations, including those that provide services to the arts has been available for application through the Cultural Recovery Fund.  You can read more here about the Cultural Recovery Fund 2   The scheme opened on 6 April and will close on 20 April at 5pm. Colleagues in the information team are available should you have questions about applying to this fund.  

I hope this is helpful in clarifying our previous discussions and provides you with information about possible funding to support your business at this time.  

From Me

no, once again I am not seeking any funding, thank you. 

What I am after is an assurance from yourselves that you carry out impact studies on all grant applications and that you can assure me that no existing business will be impacted by grant funding another business. 

I also seek your response to my question regarding your outreach and whether or not you know what existing arts business’ exist in Wales. This should include working artists seeking commissions or tutoring opportunities, arts suppliers, art schools be they private like mine or council delivered etc. 

Of course if you don’t have the list as outlined then how would you be able to make assurances re the impact of grants made…

I look forward to hearing from you with concise answers to both of these points.  

From the Arts Council

Thanks for your further email.  I have escalated your enquiry to my Senior colleagues that lead on lottery funding to respond to the questions you have set out below.

From The Arts Council

Having reviewed the correspondence in relation to your enquiry, I would like to firstly offer our best wishes to you in your business endeavours at what must be a challenging time.

In relation to your questions, we do undertake impact assessments of our funding and policy decisions and encourage recipients of our funding to work with local suppliers and business wherever possible. 

In respect of Criw Celf, Arts Council Wales has provided biannual funding for projects across Wales.  These are delivered by a range of partners all of whom we ask to consider local impact including offering contracts and work to local suppliers where this is possible and available and in accordance with their procurement policies.  This process isn’t something that we have the capacity to monitor on a case by case basis.

As we develop our new funding programmes, and our investment review of revenue funded organisations, we will place further emphasis that as a condition of grant, funded organisations must demonstrate how their project may impact local freelance artists and arts practitioners positively.

We are attempting to ensure that the connections between practitioners and funded organisations increases in order that business opportunities are increased, as demonstrated through our most recent funding – including the Cultural Recovery Fund and Connect and Flourish.

We thank you for bringing this to our attention as we strive to ensure that our funding creates increased opportunities for all those connected to the arts sector including venues, producing companies, performers, freelancers and others. 

We wish you every success in the coming months and hope that the relaxing of covid-19 restrictions will present new opportunities for business growth.