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Bristol arts groups avoid 10% funding cut following campaign win

19 February 2014

THE STAGE: www.thestage.co.uk/news/2014/02/bristol-arts-groups-avoid-10-funding-cut-following-campaign-victory/

A proposal to reduce Bristol City Council’s arts budget by nearly 10% has been withdrawn following widespread opposition by local cultural groups.

At a council meeting yesterday, which finalised the local authority’s budget for 2014/15, Labour councillor Sean Beynon backed down on his plan to reduce the arts spend by £100,000.

His amendment to the budget, which was submitted after public consultation and only came to light last week, was to “review funding for key arts providers” so that money could be diverted for crime prevention instead.

Those arts groups that could have been affected included Bristol Old Vic theatre, the Tobacco Factory Theatre and the Travelling Light Theatre Company.

Following days of campaigning by union Equity and local arts groups, the proposal has now been withdrawn.

Sarah Buckland, Equity secretary for Bristol and West general branch, said: “We are very pleased with this result and we’ve received some positive messages form councillors who were glad that the pressure has been on [to fight the proposal].”

She added: “We don’t know the reason behind this [proposal to reduce the arts budget] and some councillors are furious that it came up in the first place.

“To divert £100,000 away from arts to something else seemed like a very cynical, political move. Although our key arts providers seem safe, if you take away a bunch of money it can be dangerous on lots of levels. If you start taking local authority money away they will cut again next year and then Arts Council England might stop funding.”

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