Michael Dugher brands Arts Council music funding 'deeply flawed and unfair'

Michael Dugher brands Arts Council music funding 'deeply flawed and unfair'

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has highlighted “shocking disparities” in the way the government allocates tax income to music.

Dugher’s comments come in the wake of new UK Music analysis of official Arts Council England (ACE) figures.

Arts Council England is responsible for the distribution of £1.45 billion of public funds and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery between 2018 and 2022.

UK Music has found that, of the £368m available to music in an ACE fund, opera gets £8 for every £1 awarded to pop music.

The figures show that 8% of the tax income awarded by ACE goes to bids related to popular music, in contrast to opera’s 62% and classical music’s 23%

Brass bands, jazz, world music, folk and choral music registered a combined total of 4%.  

Dugher commented: “Analysis by UK Music of Arts Council England official figures shows some shocking disparities in the way taxpayers’ money is allocated to music. Opera is a key part of our vibrant and diverse cultural scene in the UK and many of our members are classical musicians. But the current way taxpayers’ money is allocated is manifestly unjust and should be urgently reviewed to ensure all types of music are treated fairly.” 

Dugher, who starred on the cover of Music Week earlier this year, described pop music’s allocation as “indefensible”.

“The Arts Council risks giving the impression that it is elitist and too posh for pop,” he said. “Public funds should be used to broaden the appeal of the arts, particularly among the young, and make every aspect of our fantastic culture more inclusive. 

“The UK music industry contributes £4.4bn a year to the UK economy - with live music alone contributing more than £1bn. But it is vital that we nurture our talent pipeline to bring on the next generation to follow in the footsteps of our world-famous stars like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy. The Arts Council has an important role to play in talent development so the UK maintains its position as a global leader in popular music, but the way it currently allocates its funding is deeply flawed and unfair.”

See the figures in full below:


Total Sum of Portfolio grant 18/19 - £

Total Sum of TOTAL Portfolio grant 18/22 - £

Percentage of music funding - %


£ 57,179,863

£ 228,719,452



£ 21,294,221

£ 85,176,884


Popular music

£ 7,169,809

£ 28,679,236


Multi genre

£ 2,581,151

£ 10,324,604



£ 1,738,940

£ 6,955,760


World music

£ 994,248

£ 3,976,992



£ 527,046

£ 2,108,184


Brass band

£ 353,054

£ 1,412,216



£ 112,978

£ 451,912







£ 91,951,310

£ 367,805,240


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