Somerset Councillors are meeting on November 1 to agree a plan to cut the county’s £159K arts grants budget completely. If passed, several major arts bodies will suffer. Among them, the Brewhouse, Taunton, Bridgewater Arts Centre, the Black Swan and Merlin Theatre in Frome, Somerset Film and Video Project, Somerset Arts Weeks, SPAEDA (the arts education development group), Strode Theatre in Street, rural arts agency Take Art, and participatory arts groups Action Track.
The Conservative controlled council is facing a £350 million shortfall in its annual budget and council leader Ken Maddock has warned that the council will only be able to provide statutory services going forward. They are also considering cutting staff from their museums department, despite the planned opening of a new “Museum of Somerset” in 2011.
This would be a black day indeed for the Arts in Somerset, and is an early warning sign of the potential horrors to come in the subsidised arts sector across the country.
I Value the Arts, is a nationwide campaign, led by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA), which aims to demonstrate that the arts perform a vital public service and thus deserve to be protected from the worst of the forthcoming government cuts. Anyone who values the arts should add their voice and register their details on the campaign website - ivaluethearts.org.uk
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