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Welsh cultural leaders rally against proposed £700k Cardiff council cuts

Cardiff Bay. Photo: Matthew Dixon/Shutterstock Cardiff Bay. Photo: Matthew Dixon/Shutterstock
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Welsh cultural leaders have united to back a campaign opposing council cuts in Cardiff.

Senior figures from organisations including National Theatre Wales, Welsh National Opera and the Arts Council of Wales are supporting the movement, which urges local authorities to support arts in the Welsh capital.

The campaign comes after £700,000 of arts cuts were proposed as part of cost-cutting measures announced by the City of Cardiff Council in December.

Called Cardiff Without Culture?, the campaign hopes to enable a “stronger, more engaged conversation” about the future of the city’s creativity and is calling for a U-turn on the proposed reduction, which is currently expected to be voted through by the council at the end of February.

In an open letter written to council leader Phil Bale, representatives from 25 Welsh arts organisations claim that culture is “all too easy to ignore when tough financial choices have to be made”.

“Removing funding for the arts might be an easy, short-term option, but it can prove fatal to projects and organisations that have taken years or decades to mature,” the letter continues.

An online petition set up by Cardiff Without Culture? this week has garnered more than 1,300 signatures in its first 24 hours. It currently has support from more than 1,900 people, while a series of sector meetings held in the city in recent weeks has attracted more than 100 people.

Producer Laura Drane, who has coordinated the campaign, said the council’s announcement of the intended reduction was “a step too far”.

It follows a series of decisions taken by the council in recent years that have resulted in funding reductions for Cardiff’s arts organisations. These include removing the entire annual funding of more than 10 arts organisations in 2014, including Sherman Cymru and NoFit State Circus.

“We really feel that, on top of everything else, including what will be a 5% cut to the Arts Council of Wales, this creates a very difficult position for us all to be in,” Drane told The Stage.

“In other years we did all sorts of fairly soft campaigning, but this year it really felt like we needed to go beyond that, make more public noise and take it a bit further. We are hoping to undertake visual interventions in the city, in public spaces and on social media, to really draw this into a creative and visual dimension,” she added.

The consultation on Cardiff council’s 2016/17 proposals closes on January 12, with the final budget being considered on February 25.

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