Hard times but we're still supporting the arts

By on 13/12/2010 in Blog, Culture

Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture Cllr Martin Mullaney discusses Support to the Arts and Arts Grant budgets for 2011-12.

Click here for the Cabinet report

There's been a lot of speculation about arts funding in Birmingham over the last week or so. Following this afternoon's Cabinet meeting I'm finally able to set the record straight and explain the situation.

Now let me say straight away that I understand this is an emotive issue and like many people across the city I value the arts and the massive contribution our arts organisations - big and small - make to our economy and the overall quality of life in Birmingham.

That's why I'm pleased to say my Cabinet colleagues today approved grants worth almost £8 million. Click here for details.

Yes that does represent a cut in funding - everyone knew that was coming. But it's a 17 per cent drop, not the 30 per cent suggested in a speculative report ten days ago.

Now none of us are exactly jumping for joy at the news but times are hard and everyone knows the current national economic situation. It would be naïve to think the budget cuts are not going to impact on the cultural sector here in Birmingham.

What we've tried to do though is keep the impact down to a minimum for our arts organisations and following talks with a number of organisations, I can also announce we will be offering transitional funding to 11 organisations that are not recommended for continued revenue funding in 2011/12.

We've also increased the arts project funding from around £40,000 in 2010-11 to over £250,000 for 2011-12.

That will open up funding to a wider number of organisations for projects which meet the following assessment criteria:

  • Support activities which engage local people
  • Deliver activities for young people
  • Help enhance Birmingham's reputation as a cultural destination

The £250,000 figure is more than six times the amount available for project funding in the previous year and will enable organisations that have not historically been funded to access new opportunities, as well as offering additional funding for the smaller organisations. 

So now the real figures are out there and let me stress that I have listened to the concerns of our arts organisations. I have discussed and debated the issues with arts groups and individuals and I would make it clear that my door is always open.

I want to work with arts organisations across this city and though difficult decisions have to be made, I will always listen to the views of others before making those decisions.

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