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Bath & Bristol Councils on brink of cultural vandalism

14 February 2017

Bath and Bristol councils are on the brink of culturally vandalising their communities by drastically cutting their arts budgets in a move that makes no economic sense.

Bath and North East Somerset Council has proposed a total cut in funding, while Bristol is proposing 20% in 2018-19 and additional 20% in 2021.

Stephen Spence, Equity’s Deputy for the General Secretary, said: “This amounts to cultural vandalism as the economic case for arts cuts simply does not make sense. Every pound invested in the arts generates two to seven pounds in return. This was understood at a national level when George Osborne said that cutting the arts was a ‘false economy’ – why can’t local councillors understand this?”

Actor Timothy West, who played King Lear at the Bristol Old Vic in 2016, said: “The cities of Bath and Bristol have been proudly associated with producing world-class 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.”

Actor Tony Robinson, who has lived and worked in the South West area for many years, said: “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!”

Lynda Rooke, a Bristol-based actress who is part of Equity’s campaign against cuts in the South West added: “These cuts will lead to less locally-made productions and therefore fewer opportunities for local people to watch or work in theatre. We are desperate that the South West does not become a place where we simply receive shows created elsewhere - we need local voices to be heard.”

Bath will make its final decision on 14 February and Bristol on 21 February. Equity is urging its members to contact local MPs and Councillors to tell them to stop these senseless cuts.

The union will also be taking part in the march against Bristol cuts on 21 February.

For further information:

Simon Curtis, South West Organiser, scurtis@equity.org.uk T 029 20 397971 M 07798 750254 
Stephen Spence, Equity’s Deputy for the General Secretary, sspence@equity.org.uk 020 7670 0233

 

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