Bristol and Bath under fire over budget cuts

Major arts figures have hit out at West Country councils’ plans to cut their culture budgets.

Timothy West and Tony Robinson have condemned the ‘ savage’ cuts while Equity has described them as “cultural vandalism”.

The comments come as Bath and North East Somerset Council proposed a 100% cut to grants for arts organisations, while Bristol City Council is suggesting a 40% reduction to its arts budget, over the next two years.

Bath and North East Somerset Council said the axing of arts grants would save £433,000 by 2020.  The council said it would continue to spend  more than £500,000 a year on the arts.  Bristol City council said that even after the cuts, it would  be commissioning more than £2 million worth of events and festivals in the city.

Timothy West, who played King Lear at the Bristol Old Vic, said, “The cities of Bath and Bristol have been profoundly associated with producing world-class for theatre for well over two centuries. These proposed savage cuts to their arts funding are an unforgivable assault on the social and cultural life for which both cities are justly valued,” he said.

Robinson, added, “Our vibrant and internationally respected arts not only makes Bristol and Bath exciting places to live in but also encourage tens of thousands of people to visit our twin cities every year, and attract huge amounts of further investment. No one will win from this short-sighted strategy,” he said.

Equity deputy general secretary Stephen Spence said the “economic case for the arts cuts simply does not make sense”. He added, “every pound invested in the arts generates two to seven pounds in return”.


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