Liverpool City Council hits arts with 20% funding cuts

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Liverpool City Council has published budget proposals that will see it reduce its arts funding by £1.8 million, including a £170,000 cut to its annual support of the Everyman and Playhouse theatres.

The cuts translate to 20% reduction in funding to the city's main arts organisations, meaning Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra has lost £284,000. Both it and the Everyman and Playhouse have also had to cope with cuts to their Arts Council England funding this year.

Michael Eakin, the Philharmonic's chief executive, warned that "a cut of this magnitude threatens to undermine all that this organisation has achieved in recent years" and "jeopardises our ability to stay on track and sustain a world-class professional symphony orchestra in Liverpool".

Chief conductor Vasily Petrenko added: "We are grateful for the confidence and investment that Liverpool City Council gives to this organisation. It has enabled us to deliver great music to thousands of people every year here in Liverpool, across the UK and internationally.

"We have achieved a huge amount together and there is still a lot more we can achieve for ourselves and for the city and people of Liverpool, but all this could be lost very quickly with a reduction in funding of this scale. The most successful orchestras in the world are those which have artistic ambition fully backed by their local City. It is only with this backing that we can continue to achieve world class standards and give Liverpool the economic and artistic benefit we have been providing in recent years."

The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse was a little more upbeat in its response.

Executive director Deborah Aydon said: "The council has had a ferociously difficult job and we appreciate their openness and integrity during this process.

"Clearly the proposed cut to the cultural organisations is significant, coming as it does on top of reduced investment by the arts council and other bodies. The success, ambition and profile of Liverpool's culture has had a huge positive impact on the city in recent years and it is one of our greatest strengths.

"We are hard at work, in collaboration with colleagues in the cultural and other sectors, to minimise the financial impact so that we can help Liverpool to stay strong through these tough times and keep moving forward.

"We are passionate about our responsibility to education and community groups and will continue to produce theatre of international quality that the people of Liverpool can be proud of."

The cuts will also mean that events such as the Lords Mayor's Parade and the city's Performing Arts Festival will be cancelled.

The proposals will go before LCC's full council on March 2 when it will make its final decisions.