Birmingham announce massive arts cuts

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Birmingham arts organisations have been hit by a new round of cuts.

Birmingham City Council has produced budget plans for next year which will include a 32% cut in grants at arts organisations.  The Council will award £3.177m to the city’s major arts organisations in 2017/18, down from £4.645m this year.

The proposals include a reduction of £325,000, down to £200,000, for Birmingham Rep, one of the UK’s biggest regional producing theatres. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is to be cut for the council is proposing a cut of 25%, which equates to £228,000.

Other arts organisations affected are: Birmingham Opera Company, mac birmingham, Birmingham Royal Ballet, DanceXchange, Ex Cathedra, Ikon Gallery, Performances Birmingham and Sampad.

The latest cut means the city’s investment in the arts has dropped from over £9m since 2010.

The city’s arts organisations reacted angrily to the news.  The CBSO chair, Bridget Blow, said the orchestra was “concerned and disappointed” that the council was cutting arts and culture funding “so much faster than local authorities in other major cities”.

Birmingham Rep chair  Angela Maxwell, said: "We are very disappointed that it has again chosen to impose such heavy cuts to the arts and culture sector, unlike most major cities in the UK that recognise the very positive impact on the quality of life and economic success a relatively small investment in culture brings."

She added that the theatre had done all it could to absorb ongoing cuts by diversifying its income streams – it has increased its earned income by 54% since 2010 – but said the latest cut means that the council is now giving the theatre less than it needs to spend on basic overheads and upkeep of the theatre.

Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said the authority recognised the role of arts and culture in the city and said the decision to cut the arts further was a regrettable one.

"Like most local authorities, Birmingham faces unprecedented cuts from central government and as a result we must make savings of over £250 million over the next few years – on top of £588 million cuts we have had to make since 2010," he said.

He added that the council would be working with arts organisations to find new ways of supporting the sector.


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