Newcastle City Council has published plans to completely remove funding to all arts organisations in the city, including Northern Stage, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Live Theatre, by 2016.
Due to reductions in its grant from central government, the local authority is faced with having to make cuts of £90 million, around a third of its budget. It has put forward proposals to completely remove funding from all external cultural services, warning that some organisations may not survive the cuts.
In its proposals, the council says: “The city benefits from vibrant and popular cultural institutions, but given the scale of government cuts it will not be possible for us to play as significant a role in their funding in the future. We therefore propose to work with cultural institutions to manage a substantial reduction in their funding from the council, with some institutions – including the Theatre Royal and Great North Museum – needing to secure their future without council resources by 2016. Newcastle and Gateshead councils will also scale back their joint investment delivered through the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, and each of the five Tyne and Wear councils will need to seek savings in their grants to the Archives and Museums service.
“We would be able to retain a programme of outreach services, delivered jointly with partners, supporting art development in communities with the greatest need.”
It warns that two visual arts organisations – Globe Gallery and Isis Arts – are likely to close as a result of the cuts, but says that the “fortunes of the larger organisations is more dependent on the ability of the arts council to continue to provide support (which is by no means certain) than on our funding, but the loss of resources will weaken all the organisations.”
It adds: “Some may close or merge. The Theatre Royal and Seven Stories will be particularly vulnerable.”
Newcastle Theatre Royal’s cut amounts to around £600,000 per year. This is the only public funding the venue receives.
The city council’s proposals have been put out to public consultation, which will run until February 2013. After this a draft budget will be presented to the local authority’s full council on March 6, 2013.