In a budget announcement yesterday that saw the chancellor George Osborne announce a further £3.5bn cuts in public spending in 2019-20, putting greater stress on local authorities and locally-funded arts, there was also some good news for the arts – albeit with the lion’s share going to London.

Top of the list in money terms is £54 million for the Royal College of Art to help fund the expansion of its new campus in Battersea.

Other central government funding announced includes £1 million to artist-led S1 Artspace to support the creation of an arts complex in Sheffield (subject to planning permission being granted), and £5 million to the V&A Museum of Design in Dundee (pictured top), an £81m waterfront building in the Scottish city designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

A further £13 million was committed to Hull UK City of Culture 2017, including £5 million towards the refurbishment of Hull New Theatre and £8 million to ensure there is ‘a lasting cultural legacy’ in the city.

The chancellor also confirmed a new tax relief for museums and galleries available to temporary and touring exhibitions from April 2017, which the government will consult on this year.

The scheme aims to encourage institutions to create new temporary and touring exhibitions and will be available for the costs of developing such shows.

It was also announced that the eligibility criteria for the VAT refund scheme for museums and galleries will be widened, allowing venues across England that have free admission to claim back VAT paid on goods and services. The scheme is currently only open to national museums and university museums.


There was also some good news for self-employed artists, with the chancellor announcing that Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) for self-employed people will be scrapped from April 2018.

Currently, the self-employed have to pay Class 2 NICs at £2.80 per week if they make a profit of £5,965 or over per year. Class 4 NICs are also paid if profits are over £8,060 per year.

From April 2018 only Class 4 NICs will have to be paid, with this now contributing towards state pension entitlement and other contributory benefits, which is currenly what Class 2 contributions go towards.

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