This morning the Arts Council of England have announced their funding for 'Portfolio Organisations' for the coming three years. For photography organisations in England the general picture is standstill funding or small cuts. The major victim is Photofusion who have lost all their funding. The outstanding beneficiaries are Focal Point Gallery with a 41% uplift in funding for the next three years and Autograph, who nearly double their funding.
A member of staff at Photofusion, who had just heard the news, said they were all 'completely gutted' at the cut in funding. The Arts Council grant makes up 25% of their income and its loss will have serious implications for the future of the organisation. Photofusion has been funded by the Arts Council since 1984.
Meanwhile, the contrasting fortunes of Focal Point Gallery could not be clearer to its Director Joe Hill (pictured) who was only confirmed to the position last week (having previously been deputy to the previous Director, Andrew Hunt). Focal Point has recently moved into a new gallery space as part of the library redevelopment and Hill believes that the funding increase 'recognizes the achievements of the organisation over the past five years'. This has included doubling their audience figures and putting on a programme of high-profile artists often showing new work made in Southend itself. Talking about his plans Hill says they intend to 'maintain their ambitious programme'.
Originally an out and out photography gallery since the tenure of the last Director Focal Point has been more 'lens-based' (ie. with an equal emphasis on video). Hill now says they represent a broad range of artistic practice. Photography now makes up a small part of their exhibitions, although they will show new work by Bridget Smith in the Spring of 2015. No one for Autograph was available to comment.
The Photographers' Gallery £2,711,167 (2012/15), £2,706,796 (2015/18)
Autograph ABP £1,056,342 (2012/15), £2,100,000 (2015/18)
Photoworks £822,493 (2012/15), £804,945 (2015/18)
Impressions Gallery £604,224 (2012/15), £606,843 (2015/18)
Open Eye Gallery £575,017 (2012/15), £576,903 (2015/18)
Focal Point Gallery £396,179 (2012/15), £559,152 (2015/18)
Redeye, the Photography Network £261,271 (2012/15), £263,763 (2015/18)