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Culture Secretary must Intervene on local funding decisions

23 February 2017

Equity is publically calling on the Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, to urgently intervene following the recent Council decision to cut local arts funding in Bath and North East Somerset and the looming cut in Bristol.

Equity’s Deputy for the General Secretary, Stephen Spence, said:
“The Council has committed an act of cultural vandalism in Bath that will result in a new dark age for arts and culture in the region. 

“Given Bristol is also poised to cut, the Culture Secretary must urgently intervene and facilitate a settlement to stabilise local arts funding, in a similar way to the reported deal with Surrey County Council over socialcare. Equity will be seeking an urgent meeting with Karen Bradley to discuss this. There is now a crisis with local arts funding that only the UK Government can resolve.”

More Equity members have appealed to the Councils’ to think again.

Actor Derek Fowlds star of ‘Yes Prime Minister and ‘Heartbeat’ commented: "It's a dire situation. What the arts can contribute to a community is so important. Not to mention all of the employment and business that will be lost locally. It does everyone good. I've been an actor for over sixty years - what little must they think of us and what we do as a profession. The South West Equity are doing a great job campaigning - let's hope that the Council has a change of heart."

Actor, comedian and presenter Les Dennis remarked: "I believe that Council investment in the Arts is vital. The theatre was so important to me growing up. It helped me find my voice and direction in life. Our children should be encouraged to embrace the arts to develop their cultural outlook. If the arts aren't funded they won't be able to. We ignore it's importance at our peril."

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

The comments from Derek and Les follow appeals last week from:

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 made its decision on 14 February and the Bristol Council meeting is on 21 February. Equity members are contacting local MPs and Councillors to tell them to re-think these senseless cuts.

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

For further information:
Stephen Spence, Equity’s Deputy for the General Secretary, sspence@equity.org.uk 020 7670 0233

 

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