ACE backs off from 'activism' threat

Arts Council England has backed off from threats to cut funding to organisations they find are “engaging in activism”, admitting that its update “was open to misinterpretation”.

A new statement issued this week says: “The Arts Council will not remove or refuse funding to an organisation or an individual purely because they make work that is political” and that ACE would “support freedom of expression… essential for a thriving cultural sector in this country” by National Portfolio organisations.

Originally the guidance, issued to National Portfolio funded organisations in January and under the heading of “Considering Reputational Risk”, ACE warned against “overtly political or activist” statements, and through a spokesperson, business secretary Kemi Badenoch said the government would not give taxpayers’ money “to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself”.

It was greeted by an outcry with protestors arguing that the move was an attempt to silence artists, and the controversy came as the Arts Council itself was undergoing a full-scale review by the government.

Now ACE has said that it will support organisations that receive “negative reactions” to work as long as ACE is “confident that you have a good risk management strategy in place”.

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