Arts groups in the capital have attacked new culture funding criteria from the Association of London Government, claiming they are being penalised and could face a funding crisis.
Their complaint has been prompted by the association's award of the first round of grants since a review of its criteria was published last June. The review introduced competitive bidding for grants for the first time in an effort to ensure that funding reflected the diversity of London's population.
The association has £2.4 million to award, applications totalling £5 million were received this year. Arts groups have been hit particularly hard and a number of groups that received grants in the past were not recommended for funding.
"There seems to have been a conscious strategic decision not to fund art groups," said Calli Pellegrini, head of fundraising at the Chicken Shed Theatre Company.
"We have had revenue from them for the past five years, amounting to about 20 per cent of our income, so the cut was a big problem for us," said Nicola Hutcheson, spokeswoman for Insight Arts, which provides arts projects for current and ex-offenders. "Lots of arts groups across the board are facing similar problems."
Hazel Durrant, spokeswoman for the Hackney Empire, the theatre company providing training for young people from ethnic communities, said: "Everyone found the whole process very difficult and full of holes."
The Association of London Government denied that art groups were being singled out.
"We received 200 applications but can only fund 47," said spokesman Stewart Henderson. "Recommendations simply looked to encompass a wide range of different projects."