Minister Demands Full Transparency for all Publicly Funded Arts Bodies

Today’s Sunday Times carries an article on very high salaries paid to some of those working in the “publicly funded arts world”. The article reports Antonio Pappano, the Royal Opera House’s Music Director, is paid more than ¬£630,000 a year and is given four months a year off to carry out a second job as music director of a Rome orchestra.

While the Sunday Times’ paywall means we don’t have a direct link to their article; it appears to be based on much the same information as an article published a few days earlier by The Arts Desk.

The Sunday Times article states the Government has “expressed surprise at the sums paid” and Ed Vaizey the Culture Minister is quoted as saying:

“There really must be full transparency for all publicly funded arts bodies”.

There is also a statement from the Arts Council expressing a similar, though more limited, sentiment:

“Anybody in receipt of significant public money should be transparent about their core funding costs”.

The Arts Council, the main body which distributes public funding to the arts, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The Arts Council is listed on mySociety’s Freedom of Information website WhatDoTheyKnow.com which enables people to easily make requests for information in public. While the Arts Council is responsible for handing out the money, it does not necessarily know the details of how the recipient organisations spend it. The bodies which receive funds are not themselves yet subject to freedom of information law, irrespective of how much public money they receive or how dependent they are on that subsidy.

While it may take the Minister some time to legislate to ensure “full transparency for all publicly funded arts bodies” we are happy to add such bodies to our site on request right now, so our users can ask them, in public, about their activities.

As of today the following organisations are now listed on our site:

We use the WhatDoTheyKnow site to actively campaign for expansion of Freedom of Information to cover more public organisations. We list a number of bodies not formally subject to FOI some of which are present on the grounds they are substantially publicly funded.

For some time we have listed the British Board of Film Classification, a key arts regulatory body which is not subject to freedom of information law, and the British Film Institute; the latter two bodies are funded by the DCMS directly so Minister Ed Vaizey may well be able to get them to voluntarily comply with FOI legislation first thing on Monday morning.

A particular set of arts funding bodies which some of our users have made us aware they would like to see subject to the act are the UK Screen Agencies (eg. Film Agency Wales) which distribute public funds to the film culture sector.

Please contact the WhatDoTheyKnow team if you have any suggestions for further bodies which you would like to see us list on our site.