Government Axe falls on Arts Budget

Arts organisations including the ARC in Stockton and the Borough’s highly successful International Riverside Festival are the latest to feel the brunt of the Government axe as the Arts budget nationally has been cut by 30% or £100 million.

Full details are still being worked out but organisations and events which rely on Government funding will lose out considerably thought this year’s cut which may be contained to around 7% next year but that will more than double in future years.

Others in Stockton affected are Tees Valley Dance and Tees Music Alliance.

All organisations, it appears, will face an even tougher regime in the future as Arts Council England requires them all to apply for future funding through new structures. This requirement will coincide with the council publishing its new 10 year strategic framework “Achieving Great Art for Everyone”.

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North and a former Arts Council member in the North East is worried that organisations which work with local communities and young people could go under or be unable to offer the kinds of services used by so many.

“We all know that arts organisations will need to play their in part in cutting their expenditure but I just wonder how many of them can achieve “Great Art for Everyone” when they’ll see such huge cuts in budgets over the next few years,” said Alex. “The work done by the ARC and Tees Music Alliance with schools, young people and communities throughout Stockton has been tremendous in recent years but now that work is under threat.

“We have seen tremendous results whether that be young people making music, listening to the bands that have been created or preparing for and taking part in the International Riverside Festival community carnival. It would be sad to see that work come to an end.”

Now Alex is writing to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport asking just how he intends to protect arts organisations and ensure that Great Art for Everyone isn’t just a London or major city thing but will be retained in communities like those in the Stockton Borough.

“I know there are plans to redirect some lottery cash to the arts but it won’t replace the funding that has been lost. I just want to know how serious the Government’s arts agenda actually is” said Alex.