Industrial news

Equity presents alternative funding plan for arts and culture to Suffolk Council

Last week (Friday 9 February) Equity released an alternative funding plan for arts and culture in Suffolk, in an attempt to resolve the funding crisis over the local council’s arts budget.

Our members have been hugely affected by the Council’s 100% budget cut to arts and culture funding. On 8 February we wrote to arts portfolio holder Cllr Faircloth-Mutton, laying out our proposals and urging him to give them serious consideration.

We are proposing:

  • 80% of the new £500,000 fund announced by the Council to be ringfenced for the existing nine arts organisations who were funded by the Council on an annual basis until this year.
  • 20% of the remaining fund to be available to all other applicable organisations in the form of biddable projects.

The proposal is an alternative to that announced by the Council on 26 January, where all annual funding for the core nine arts organisations end and a new one off £500,000 fund (made available through a central government grant) is to be open to competitive bids from any applicable organisation.

While the new fund is smaller from the annual budget line that has been cut, ringfencing a portion of funding will allow some financial stability through to 2026 for the existing recipients, yet gives arts and culture a boost across the county in the form of money for new projects.

Our move to offer a sustainable solution to the arts funding crisis in Suffolk comes after our petition against the 100% budget cut hit 3.6 thousand signatures, and a large rally of 100+ Suffolk residents and arts workers was held outside Council offices to oppose the cuts, which received political support from Labour, Lib Dems, Green political candidates.

Access to arts and culture plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between communities and promoting inclusivity across Suffolk. It is imperative that Westminster provides proper funding to local government, enabling them to tackle inequality head-on and harness the power of arts and culture as a catalyst for positive change. I call on the Council to seriously consider our proposal, and I look forward to hearing from Cllr. Faircloth-Mutton in due course.


Equity’s demands to Suffolk County Council are set out in a petition which was launched on 10 January 2024 and has collected 3,647 signatures so far, with members of the public leaving testimonials on the petition page about how much this arts funding means to them.


In response to Suffolk County Council’s proposal to cut their arts and culture budget by 100% in January 2024, Equity launched a petition opposing the cuts, which has now reached 3.6 thousand signatures.

Suffolk Council proposed a new one off fund open for competitive bidding to replace core annual funding on 26 January, details can be found on the Suffolk Council website.  

Attendees at the demonstration included residents who had directly benefitted from the community work done by New Wolsey Theatre, Eastern Angles, and the other arts and cultural organisations that currently benefit from core funding.

Suffolk County Council’s own Equality Impact Assessment (quoted below) clearly identifies the disproportionate impact of these cuts to the low paid, elderly, children and those with special educational needs.

People with disabilities could be disproportionately impacted through the loss of programmes specifically targeted to this group. These could include projects, such as:

  • Museum clubs and art sessions for people with learning difficulties
  • Forest School for children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities
  • Engineering workshops for young men with long-term mental health issues
  • Reminiscence and artist-led sensory programmes for people with dementia
  • Dance session for people with neurological condition
  • Theatre shows aimed at engaging with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Museum and arts organisations are exemplar enablers of integrated access for disabled visitors. This is supported by SCC Access Able Contract.
  • Museum and arts venues may have less capacity to sustain and develop this integrated access if funding is lost.

In 2022-23, the 9 organisations that received core funding from SCC engaged 61,000 people who met one or more of the following criteria:

  • on means tested benefits
  • those over 65
  • those with a declared disability. ...and 49,000 children and young people. This work was funded by income, grants, charitable and SCC core funding).

Children and older people may be disproportionately impacted due to potential loss of programmes including:

  • Arts-led programmes which support older rural isolated people to connect, build confidence
  • Museum outreach to people in care homes
  • Countywide theatre outreach through schools.
  • Art sessions for children in hospitals and hospices

Arts partners programmes have tackled issues relating to sexism, misogyny and violence against women and girls.

Art and Museum sector organisations bring in significant financial and economic gain to the County, supported by SCC core funding. This benefits those in socio-economic disadvantage.

In 2022-23, the 9 organisations that received core funding from SCC engaged 61,000 people who met one or more of the following criteria:

  • on means tested benefits
  • those over 65
  • those with a declared disability. This work was funded by income, grants, charitable and SCC core funding.

The potential loss of free or discounted programmes could reduce access to those on lowest income. Programmes which benefit those in socioeconomic disadvantage (e.g. Holiday activity fund) may be lost due to a reduced capacity among arts and museums org to bid for project funds and coordinate delivery.


Latest News