The architecture community has been left ‘baffled’ by the Arts Council’s decision to suspend Architecture Week, according to a senior architectural commentator.
New London Architecture exhibition director Peter Murray says the move is ‘bizarre’ given the success of this year’s event.
‘If you look at the way architecture is moving up the political agenda – planning legislation now requires the public to get involved – it is clear that it’s an area moving more and more into public consciousness,’ says Murray.
‘We can only assume that architecture is not as high a priority as other arts projects,’ he adds.
Murray feels that groups in the cultural sector looking for funding ought to be concerned about the amount of money being spent on the Olympics. ‘They are both in competition for funding,’ he says.
Chairman of the Arts Council Sir Christopher Frayling declined to comment on the decision until after an Arts Council summit, due to take place later this week.
The Arts Council’s announcement that it is to ‘carry out an independent options appraisal’ to review the value of its investment in Architecture Week has left the future of the annual event in doubt.
The review will examine the format and delivery of the event in terms of strengths, weaknesses, effectiveness and public value, and will offer ‘a number of options for the future’.
A spokeswoman for the Arts Council attempts to explain the reasoning behind the move. ‘The scene of architecture has changed so much over the last decade,’ she explains. ‘The UK is undergoing the largest public building programme ever, with major urban regeneration programmes going on. The Arts Council has supported Architecture Week for over 11 years, it was time to review the value of its investment. It takes such a long time and large amount of money to bring to fruition,’ she says.
The Arts Council has denied speculation that arts grants are being squeezed due to the burgeoning cost of the Olympics.