Sarah Gee - partner

Let's hear it for TeamGB - and for arts lottery funding

Posted by Sarah Gee - partner on 7th August 2012

Like much of the UK, I seem to have had something in my eye for the past 10 days. If welling up with national pride were an Olympic sport, I reckon that TeamGB would be able to add yet another gold to the collection. Tissue manufacturers must be experiencing a rush in sales.

It’s been fascinating listening to the way that the accompanying rhetoric has developed in recent days alongside the medal tally. First, there was mention of the need for more investment in school sports, then accusations over which political party sold off more school playing fields, and now constant mention of the amount of Lottery funding invested in TeamGB to bring us all those medals of which we’re so proud. The implication behind all this is that there’s a direct correlation between money spent and success (and there probably is, to some extent) and that we’ll need to keep investing at least the same in the future if we want to maintain our sporting prowess in Rio.

Now, don’t get me wrong: no one has been more proud of our nation’s sporting achievements than me. But I am worrying about the direction in which this is all moving. We all know that arts Lottery funding is not guaranteed in the future (it only went back to 20% of total funds on 1st April – and it could change again), and that the principle of ‘additionality’ has already gone out the window in Scotland (there’s more on that story here )

So I’m wondering if the arts sector needs to get a campaign going to ensure that the BBC and other media outlets mention the important role that Lottery funding has had on arts organisations and individual artists the length of the land. Where would the Cultural Olympiad have been if organisations and projects had been without support from the Lottery? And would the opening ceremony have been such an awe-inspiring event without the actors and directors whose films received Lottery support, the musicians who play in Lottery-funded venues, the scriptwriter whose screenplays have enjoyed Lottery investment….and so on.

I’m not advocating that money is taken away from sport, but we must ensure parity of funding for sport and the arts as both help define our national identity and bring us such enormous pride.

Just saying…

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