THE head of the Arts Council says he fears for the future of the arts outside London, ahead of £25m of fresh funding cuts.

Sir Peter Bazalgette said decisions loomed on which of 696 “National Portfolio Organisations” – including five in Southampton – will continue to receive cash from next year.

Overall funding will plunge by £25m, despite the Arts Council switching cash from the national lottery to ease some of the pain of steep Government cuts.

Meanwhile, local authorities, the main funder of arts organisations and projects, faced many more years of their own cuts, Sir Peter said.

Giving evidence to an inquiry by MPs, he warned: “The area I’m most concerned about is outside London “It’s more difficult to raise money philanthropically and many arts institutions are co-funded with local authorities. Those authorities are, in parallel, under great spending pressure.

“Reductions to local authority funding will go on for another three or four years. There’s a possibility that we will lose a very large slug of arts funding – it’s a great concern.”

A total of 696 organisations are receiving £1billion from the Arts Council between 2012 and 2015, including five in Southampton:

  • Nuffield Theatre – which “creates inspirational performances for Southampton and further afield” and presents visiting artists.
  • John Hansard Gallery – visual art, based on the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus.
  • Art Asia – which promotes a “rich and exciting experience of South Asian arts” in Southampton and across the South East.
  • Southampton City Council.
  • A branch of Artswork – which helps run projects for young people.

Groups have been told they must show they are “distinct and complementary” to avoid being struck off the funding list from 2015.

But Sir Peter added: “We are confident that, when we come out of where we are, we will have preserved most of that portfolio. That will be quite an achievement.”

The inquiry, by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, has been set up to explore growing protests that London grabs too much of the shrinking pot.

But Sir Peter told MPs he was shifting cash to the regions, which now received 70 per cent of funds – up from 60 per cent over most of the period since 1995.