Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of the venues that could be affected by the council's decision

Birmingham makes culture a high priority in budget consultation

Geraldine Kendall, 29.10.2014
But future funding remains uncertain as council seeks to cut £150m
Birmingham City Council has identified arts and museums as one of its highest priority services ahead of a public consultation into its 2015/16 budget.

The Labour-led council, which needs to reduce its budget by £150m next year and cut a total of £300m by 2018, has ranked all of its services according to priority in a green paper published for the budget consultation, which will run throughout November. The services have been assessed in terms of how they contribute to the council's core goals of “fairness, prosperity and democracy”.

The green paper proposes to list arts and museums in the top category, which identifies council services that make a “very high contribution to key outcomes”.

Council leader Albert Bore acknowledged that the decision could prove controversial in light of cuts facing other services but said art and culture were “a crucial part of what makes Birmingham a city of note”, according to the Birmingham Mail.

If the proposed grading is confirmed, it would mean that the local authority would protect funding for arts and museums ahead of services with a lower grading such as libraries, community sport and youth services.

The grading has come as welcome news to Birmingham Museums Trust, which receives 33% of its funding from the council. Any significant reduction in local authority funding would add to the potentially difficult financial situation faced by the trust following Arts Council England’s decision to cut its Major Partner Museum grant by 44% in real terms for 2015-18.

The trust’s director Ellen McAdam said: “Birmingham Museums Trust welcomes Birmingham City Council's decision to prioritise the arts and museums in its budget consultation during this very difficult time for the city.

“We believe this reflects, not only the economic role of the city's internationally important collection in terms of attracting visitors to the city, but also our commitment to using the collection to engage all Birmingham's diverse communities.”

The organisation, which is the largest museum trust in the UK, has already undergone one major restructure since it was established in 2012, losing around 20 posts.

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said the budget proposals were still up for discussion and a final decision on the grading would not be taken until after the public consultation.

The Museums Association Annual Conference & Exhibition 2015 will take place in Birmingham on 5-6 November 2015

Correction
30.10.2014


We originally reported that the trust receives more than 60% of its funding from Birmingham City Council. This figure was out of date and has been corrected.

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