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Arts Council chief responds to pop fund critics

By | Published on Thursday 30 May 2013

Alan Davey

Arts Council England chief Alan Davey has penned a new blog post on his organisation’s website, in a bid to address some of the questions raised about its new Momentum Music Fund – specifically the question, why the hell are you spending tax payers’ money on funding pop acts when that’s what the record label system is for, it funded by the commercial profits of the One Directions and Adeles of this world.

As previously reported, the Momentum Fund was launched by Davey at The Great Escape earlier this month, and will see the arts organisation hand out grants of £5000 – £15,000 to pop and rock musicians for the first time, its music initiatives traditionally focussing more on classical, folk and jazz.

Appearing in Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme earlier this week, he was quizzed on the exact point of the fund, and in defending it managed to piss off lots of people at record labels. Davey claimed that labels were failing new artists by not investing enough money in developing them to their full potential.

Geoff Taylor, the boss of record label trade body BPI, later called this view “ill-informed and out of touch”, pointing out that UK labels, both major and independent, had invested £1 billion in developing new talent over the last five years, and as a result had given the world the likes of Adele, Mumford & Sons, Emeli Sandé, Ed Sheeran, Muse and Jessie J.

In his new more conciliatory blog post, Davey wrote that while the UK music industry’s £3.8 billion revenues in 2011 were clearly a huge success story, and while that industry was indeed reinvesting a sizable portion of its profits into new artists and releases, ACE research had nevertheless shown that “whilst considerable investment in talent was clearly going on, it appeared to be getting harder and harder for emerging talent to progress” due to a combination of factors.

He continued: “This fund is a two year pilot, to see if what we have identified is the right help to be offering. We need to be cautious in any intervention we make in a market to ensure it has the right effect – hence the small beginning of just £500,000 over two years. If it works, and if we have the money, we’d like to expand it. Because giving talent the ability to find its way really matters – to anyone who is concerned about culture in this country and the music they love”.

Read Davey’s full blog post here.

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