Council cuts hit Westminster, Sheffield and Blackburn

Westminster plans to scrap £350,000 arts programme
Patrick Steel
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Westminster Council is proposing to reduce its £350,000 arts commissioning programme by £150,000 from April this year, and cut it completely from April 2014.

The cuts would impact on a number of organisations including the Serpentine Gallery, which Museums Journal understands would see film projects, workshops, family days and late events axed.

Melvyn Caplan, Westminster’s cabinet member for finance and customer services, said: “We are facing unprecedented cuts to our budgets and having to make tough spending decisions within all our areas of service.

“If we had not reduced arts commissioning, then an alternative would have been to take money from our meals on wheels service.

“Westminster has a vibrant and strong arts community and we are balancing this against the need to maintain other vital services in our community.”

Sheffield City Council has confirmed it will cut £200,000 from Museums Sheffield from April, which will see the museum restructure its 41-strong visitor services team.

According to chief executive Kim Streets, the museum is anticipating that the restructure will lead to some redundancies, but is hoping that around half of the funding gap will be met through reducing expenditure on everything from photocopiers to telephones while beefing up the museum’s retail offer.

The arts council’s strategic support fund is backing a new events producer role at the museum, beginning next month, with a remit to create a series of income generating events.

Blackburn with Darwen Council, as part of overall savings of £30m, is reviewing opening hours at Blackburn Museum, and looking at proposals to withdraw its £50,000 grant to Turton Tower from April 2014.

And in Newcastle, shadow culture minister Dan Jarvis last week met with representatives of the arts council, the city’s cultural sector and the council’s leader Nick Forbes to discuss the proposed cuts to culture in the city.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, the arts council’s regional director, said: “This summit meeting was a significant step forward in developing a new model of joint funding for arts and culture in a city.

“What happens here will support Arts Council England in new and innovative funding partnerships. This will ensure that our investment works hard to maintain and secure the vibrancy of the cultural offer which makes Newcastle a living working city.”

Update
30.01.2013, 4.35pm

The piece was amended to include information about Blackburn with Darwen Council.



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