They always seem to leave it to the weekend to bury bad news, in the hope that the public doesn’t notice, but Westminster City Council has confirmed a two-year plan to scrap £350,000 per year from its community arts budget, a fund currently directed to projects in venues such as the Soho Theatre and the English National Ballet. Most other councils in Britain plan ahead by 12 months, so here is what we uncovered, although no overall figures exist for the 32 boroughs in London. It is also a fact that local authorities are not obliged to provide arts funding or release this information publicly.
Birmingham City Council did not respond to a request for figures from the BBC, but at the end of 2010 The Stage newspaper reported that the council was cutting its arts budget by £2m over the subsequent three years.
Bradford City Council is cutting £330,000, or 6.3%, from its culture and tourism budget in 2013/14.
Edinburgh City Council funding to external arts venues and festivals remains unchanged at £5.2m.
Glasgow Life, which administers arts funding on behalf of Glasgow City Council, said its external arts grants would be cut by 10%, or £209,000. Its budget for council-run
museums and other cultural venues is roughly level at £18m.
Leeds City Council grants to more than 100 arts organisations including Opera North and the West Yorkshire Playhouse will remain roughly level at £2.5m per year.
Liverpool City Council decided to cut funding to its arts organisations including the Everyman and Playhouse theatres, Tate Liverpool and Liverpool Philharmonic by 10% per year for three years.
Manchester City Council is to cut its cultural grants and galleries budget by 10% for the coming year, saving a total of £390,000.
Newcastle City Council will stop its regular funding for theatres and other arts venues and launch a new cultural fund worth 50% less. The council will scrap its £1.2m core arts grants as part of £100m savings.
Sheffield City Council arts budget is being cut by about 8%, or £320,000. That includes a £106,000 cut for Sheffield Theatres, which runs the Crucible and Lyceum, and £200,000 for Museums Sheffield, which runs the Graves art gallery and Millennium Gallery.
On the other hand, Belfast City Council is to increase its arts spending by 27% after agreeing a £4.1m three-year package, this is only because it is Britain’s City of Culture this year mounting international events like the prestigious Turner Prize.
At the opposite end of the spectrum but relevant, the Local Government Association (LGA) has published a report highlighting the role of culture in boosting the economy, saying cultural businesses contribute at least £28bn per year to the UK’s economy.
Photo: Liverpool © Artlyst 2013