Big Cuts in Arts Institution Funding from the Councils in Midlands
As per an ITV News Central investigation, around 60% of the councils in Midlands that are responsible for funding various cultural institutions have lowered the contribution amount in the past three years.
These figures were obtained by a request from an ITV News Central to the related local authorities for information regarding the reduction of funding for the local arts.
From a total of 25 different councils that fund the local cultural institutions, 15 have gone ahead and confirmed that there has in fact been a reduction in the amount that they had been contributing in the past three years.
Due to these reductions by 60% of these councils at least fifty three cultural institutions are affected as they are experiencing a funding cut.
The affected institutions include museums, heritage centres, theatres and art galleries as they have been experiencing a marked drop in funding since April, 2013.
The gravity of the situation can only be understood by the fact that three of the cultural buildings including The Public, Broadfield House Glass Museum, and Walsall Museum have closed their doors permanently.
As per the Sandwell Council, the weekly cost of running The Public in West Bromwich stood at £30,000 which resulted in the art gallery being closed permanently in November 2013. The venue that stood at £70 million has in the past been used by a number of local groups as a base, one of them being People’s Orchestra.
Sarah Marshall, founder of the People’s Orchestra told in an interview to the ITV News Central that the move to a lower profile venue definitely was taken hard by most group members. This decision to close the venue was strongly defended by the Sandwell Council that put forth the argument that the council had to prioritize the maintenance of its core services for the local residents’ welfare. The controversy however is stoked when a former employee of The Public told ITV News Central that the decision and the closing of The Public was politically motivated and was not really for the financial reasons as was claimed.
This decision and the move resulted in sixty people losing their jobs and the loss of an increasingly popular cultural institution for West Bromwich. Sadly, the funding was pulled right when The Public was proving to be a success.
There has also been a considerable reduction in funding from the Birmingham City Council and some of the prominent institutions of repute that were affected were the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Rep theatre, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to name only a few.
Ian Ward, the deputy leader of the City Council has in fact stated that the council is left with no choice as under the Conservative Government the budgets and money inflow seems to be shrinking continuously.
The official statement from a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was as follows:
“Arts and culture has a hugely positive impact on people’s lives and we are absolutely committed to broadening access to the arts across the whole country.
Our Culture White Paper – the first strategy for the sector in more than 50 years – sets out how we will increase access to arts and culture across the country and ensure they are open to all.”