Westminster City Council proposes to remove all arts funding by 2014/15

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Soho Theatre and English National Ballet will be among those groups set to lose funding from Westminster City Council following a proposal to phase out all of its arts budget by 2014/15.

A report to the local authority’s budget and performance task group lays out plans to cut the council’s annual £350,000 spend on arts organisations by removing £150,000 in 2013/14 and a further £200,000 in 2014/15.

Soho Theatre young people’s programmes, English National Ballet’s older people’s schemes and community and youth arts services from Paddington Arts, Dream Arts and Streetwise Opera would all be affected, along with around ten other initiatives led by arts groups.

Westminster City Council is expected to make a decision on the proposals on March 6, 2013.

Melvyn Caplan, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for finance and customer services, said: “We don’t take these decisions lightly, but we are facing unprecedented cuts to our budgets and having to make tough spending decisions within all our areas of service.  The total level of savings is £100 million over a four-year period.

“If we had not reduced arts commissioning, then an alternative would have been to take money from our meals-on-wheels service.  These are the stark choices and we’ve taken the decision to protect the most vulnerable and elderly by keeping our meals-on-wheels service as it is.'

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