The decision by the Department for Media Culture and Sport to pull CABE’s funding last year was ‘one of the most difficult we had to make’ according to Culture Minister Ed Vaizey
The revelation came in a critical report by the CMS Select Committee’s report into the funding of the arts and heritage, examining in particular the coalition government’s cuts to the Arts Council and other cultural bodies.
In the findings (published here), the committee attacked the DCMS for axeing its £5 million annual funding for the commission in the Spending Review last October, saying the decision was ‘harsh, especially given [Vaizey’s] appreciation of its work and that of the local architecture and design centres CABE has fostered’.
Vaizey had given evidence to the select committee in December as CABE was looking for a ‘phoenix project to ensure its survival’.
The committee continued: ‘We welcome CABE’s continuation within the Design Council. The severe cuts, however, have given the local centres, in particular, barely any time to re-organise for the future and the danger is that their valuable contribution will be lost.
‘We urge the DCMS, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Design Council to consider as a priority how they can prevent this happening.’
CABE officially merged with the Design Council last month.
The committee also flagged up worries about the potential drop in numbers of heritage experts and local conservation officers due to the spending cuts.
The report concludes: ‘We are concerned that the Government does not realise that effective management of the historic environment at local level cannot be adequately undertaken without sufficient numbers of local authority conservation officers.
‘The lack of conservation officers was a matter of particular concern to our predecessors in both 2006 and 2008 and we are concerned that the position may deteriorate further in the light of local government spending cuts. This will inhibit protection of the built heritage and hamper proper consideration of development proposals in the planning system when the economy recovers.
‘We urge the Government to remind councils of the need to retain their specialist heritage professionals, an important statutory function.’
Vaizey: 'CABE funding cut was most diffcult decision'