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Plea to protect Newcastle culture from the axe

A FIGHTBACK against arts cuts has been launched as organisations seek to save 20 years of cultural regeneration.

A FIGHTBACK against arts cuts has been launched as organisations seek to save 20 years of cultural regeneration.

Newcastle’s reputation for the arts is under threat after the city council announced plans to withdraw all of its grants to 11 organisations around the city. A call for a re-think on those cuts has come as arts organisations have joined the council’s Lib Dem opposition and the regional boss of the Arts Council in warning that the city’s cultural renaissance is being put at risk.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, regional director of the Arts Council England said: “We understand that Newcastle City Council has to make some very difficult decisions about how to deploy its reduced budget.

“However, we believe that a small amount of local government funding in culture can go a long way in making somewhere an attractive place to live, work and visit.

“Sustained investment in culture over the last 15 years has made Newcastle a centre of culture for the North East, home to some of our most treasured and exciting galleries, theatres and museums ... all of which contribute significantly to the regional economy and the quality of life in the area.

“All of this is at risk if the council does cut cultural investment by 100% over the next three years. That is why we will continue to work closely with the council, arts organisations and the wider cultural sector in the city, arguing hard for the value of continued investment in art and culture.

“It is good to know that the council’s proposals will be put to public consultation from November 20.”

Lib Dem group leader Coun David Faulkner, who is also chair of the Intercultural Arts group and a board member of Tourism Tyne & Wear, said: “The long-term consequences depend upon the final decisions by the council on where the cuts will fall, and also on whether the Government puts in some additional cash to mitigate the cuts.

“It also depends upon whether alternative providers of services come forward. I understand that there is already interest being expressed in running pools and leisure centres.

“There will be a major impact on frontline services so that, for example, neighbourhoods will be less well-maintained than they are now, and some facilities may have to close or be provided in a different way.”

Organisations who will suffer significant losses include The Live Theatre and the Tyneside Cinema.

Live Theatre chief executive Jim Beirne said: “Clearly this a very challenging time for the region and the news of these cuts is worrying.

“We look forward to discussing this in greater detail with Newcastle City Council during the consultation period.

“Newcastle and Gateshead together have become a beacon of how cultural regeneration can change the landscape of a city – economically, socially and educationally – and together have become renowned around the world for this.

“It would be a tragedy of enormous proportion if this were lost.”

The Tyneside Cinema’s revenue grant this year is worth £59,500. Anna Cornelius, of The Tyneside Cinema, said: “This is worrying news for the city, and for the arts and culture around the entire country.

“We recognise that the city has a significant challenge to face and we look forward to entering into discussions with them about this during the forthcoming consultation period.”

A meeting on first part of the budget will be held on Wednesday.

 

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