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Bath confirms 100% cut to arts grants

Bath. Photo: Andrew Desmond/Shutterstock Bath, where the local council will no longer fund small project grants for the arts. Photo: Andrew Desmond/Shutterstock
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Arts grants awarded by Bath and North East Somerset Council are to be abolished completely after councillors approved a new budget for the local authority.

Bath and North East Somerset Council has approved a 100% cut to its small project grants for the arts, which have previously provided companies with up to £5,000 a year.

The council is cutting the arts grants to save £433,000 by 2020.

It said it needed to find a total of £49 million of savings, to “balance the budget” over the four years from 2016/17. It blamed this on a reduction in central government funding.

The cut to its arts grants was approved at a meeting on February 14, which saw protestors gather outside the council’s offices to campaign against the reductions.

A petition set up online against the arts cuts also gained support from more than 1,000 people. The petition stated that the arts were vital to Bath’s economy, providing jobs and tourism for the area, as well as encouraging participation from local residents.

One signatory wrote: “The arts provide a huge income for local business and without the arts there would be a big loss in the community.”

Another stated: “A civilised country provides funds towards the arts, which happen to reap benefits well beyond the investment.”

Earlier this month, actor Timothy West spoke out against the cuts, after it emerged that Bristol was also facing cuts to its arts budget. The local council there is proposing a 40% cut, with £190,000 removed in 2018/19 and the same amount shaved off in 2021.

West said: “The cities of Bath and Bristol have been proudly associated with producing world-class theatre for well over two centuries. These proposed savage cuts to their arts funding are an unforgivable assault on the social and cultural life for which both cities are justly valued.”

Bristol City Council will vote on its budget on February 21.

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