The Musicians' Union (MU) has condemned the government's cuts to arts funding body the Arts Council as "devastating to music and culture."

Arts Council England's government grant of £449 million ($706 million) will be cut by 29.6% to £349 million ($549 million) by 2014. The U.K. government has announced drastic spending cuts across departments in order to tackle the budget deficit.

The Arts Council distributes its money to hundreds of arts venues, theater groups and galleries. For the music sector, the impact of the cuts will be largely felt by classical musicians.

"We all knew that cuts were coming - but funding cuts of 14% in the first year means that many organizations will really find it difficult to survive," said John Smith, MU General Secretary, in a statement. "We would have preferred to see the cuts spread out over a longer period of time to give the arts time to adjust."

The MU represents more than 30,000 musicians working in all genres.