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CABE to cut network handouts

Architecture Centres fear ‘devastating’ impact of reduction in grant aid

CABE is planning to cut its funding to the country’s 22 Architecture Centres – a move which insiders say could be ‘devastating’.

The AJ has discovered that, from April next year, CABE is looking to reduce its £1.86 million grant to the Architecture Centre Network covering the period 2008-10. It is also understood that CABE intends to offer grants from the reduced pot to organisations other than the network’s members and to narrow its assessment criteria when allocating cash.

The extent of the reduction in funding has not been disclosed, but it is known that CABE’s paymasters in government have instructed the commission to find savings within CABE of 3 per cent over the next three years.One Architecture Centre Network source said: ‘The cuts could have a devastating impact on outposts heavily reliant on the commission’s funding. There is anxiety and a lack of clarity from CABE.’

Only those centres that focus on regional design review and youth education programmes will be guaranteed funding. Among the centres which could feel the effects of the cuts are Hull’s arc, the Kent Architecture Centre and Beam, in Wakefield, which was allocated £90,000 last year.

Robert Powell, Beam’s executive director and the chairman of the Architecture Centre Network, said: ‘Anything that would undermine CABE’s investment is obviously of concern to us, particularly the narrowing of the categories of things we do that would merit CABE’s funding.’

Although the commission insists no final decision has been made on the centres, any planned cuts to the regions would seem to fly in the face of the recent Light Touch Review of CABE’s stated aims and direction. In it, the government called on the commission to develop a strategy ‘to more effectively influence design outcomes in all parts of England in response to the government’s agenda for the devolution of decision-making’.

Caroline Fraser, head of regions at CABE, refused to comment on the cuts. She said:  ‘We expect details about eligibility to be available in July and decisions about individual centres will be announced in December.’

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