Stop the Cuts and save the arts at your local council elections

Help us save arts funding in your community. Sign up to be part of Equity’s local elections campaign – ahead of council elections on 2 May 2024.

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Group of Equity members with Stop the Cuts banners and flags at demo

This local election we’re asking you to save the arts and stop the cuts.

The government’s austerity squeeze on council budgets has put arts funding on the chopping board time and again.

Soon, there won’t be any local government arts funding left.

We’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

Will you take action to save the arts and stop the cuts this election?

We’re asking you to take a series of actions to save the arts in your local Town Hall. Whether you’ve got time for just sending an email, or coordinating a protest, there will be a campaign action here for everyone.

Sign up for your campaign guide

Sign up to receive your campaign pack with everything you need to run an effective campaign in your area, whether you are going to target your local council, your metro mayor election, or the London Assembly election.

We’ve set out the campaign steps in a clear and simple way, with links to campaign tools and templates that we’ve already written, to help you kickstart a campaign in your local council area.

Why we need to act

Last year councils invested more than £2 billion in culture and library services in England alone – more than double Arts Council England’s investment. But thanks to austerity and inflation, that’s still 40% less per person than in 2010.

Local council arts budgets are tiny enough as it is. Cutting them won’t solve the funding problems they face, but it will have an outsize impact on the cultural life your family gets to enjoy in your local area.
Times are tough. Budgets are getting squeezed. But we all deserve to access the arts where we live.

Sign up to support our campaign. Get your council candidates on record. Do they support the arts or not?

Our demands to candidates

  1. Oppose cuts to existing funding and pledge to ring fence culture funding in the May elections.
  2. Require union contracts, terms and conditions for all public funding of the arts.

Take action now

  1. Enter your details below to get your step by step campaign guide. 
  2. Read our step by step guide to campaigning in your local area.
  3. Get started!
Stop the Cuts rally in Bristol with flags and banners

Where we’ve fought these cuts already: Bristol

In 2023 Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees announced sweeping cuts to arts funding in Bristol, all under a cloak of secrecy. Our members in Bristol demanded answers, and they stood up to fight. The branch set up a petition, called a big rally outside City Hall, and tabled public questions at Council meetings to cross examine the Mayor in front of the press.

We discovered badly managed funding processes, and a fear of transparency. We won commitments to clearer processes, and quicker funding decisions for our members. But this wasn’t enough for the branch. That’s why in this local election, we want to make sure every politician feels the heat from Equity – and ensure that the next time the Council comes for arts funding, they know we’ll be ready.

Sign saying "fund artists we improve life"

Where we’ve fought these cuts already: Suffolk

In Janaury 2024, Suffolk County Council announced a 100% cut to their culture budget. The union sprung into action, setting up a petition, calling a protest outside Council offices, gaining the support of political candidates, and speaking to audience goers, parents of SEND kids, and teachers in schools, to build support to oppose these cuts. Within weeks we won a concession of a replacement fund of £500,000.

This was progress, but we weren’t satisfied, so we announced our own alternative funding plan for the arts, and mobilised hundreds of members and audience goers to email Suffolk Councillors to demand they support our proposals. We’ll take this work into the local elections to ensure politicians know we will keep them accountable.

Decorative image: President Lynda Rooke at demo

Lynda Rooke, President of Equity, on the Nottingham City Council cuts

"Proposing to cut just over £60,000 from the (Nottingham Playhouse) theatre until at least 2028 will seriously affect the provision of youth services and as a consequence severely limit the engagement of local young people in theatre and especially those from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. It will limit those youngsters from potentially considering a career in the performing arts, because, “you can’t be what you can’t see”. "

Resist the cuts in Northern Ireland

If you're in Northern Ireland, join our campaign to fight against the cuts to arts funding in Northern Ireland.

Join the campaign