Newcastle is going through an unwelcome experiment in cutting the Council's entire arts budget. I imagine that is heartbreaking for all the people who having building up Newcastle's arts infrastructure over the years. The buildings may remain, but what. Use are they without money to pay for the activities within them? Making up the shortfall from elsewhere is likely to be difficult. Areas outside London struggle to achieve outside funding, and Council funding often provides a stamp of approval and some seed money that can be essential to drawing in additional resources.
That is why I am keen to avoid a similar fate in Brent. Our arts programme is much more modest than that of Newcastle, but it does a huge amount of good out of all proportion to its funding. Most important, however, in these times when all services need an economic justification, the arts have potential to generate employment and wider regeneration that is becoming increasingly important to urban areas. The main trouble in making this argument is that it draws heavily on softer measures rather than hard data.