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Local council defends 65% funding cut to Bristol Old Vic

Bristol, which will have £380,000 of its arts budget cut by the city council. Photo: Sion Hannuna/Shutterstock Bristol: the local council has pledged to cut £380,000 of its arts budget cut by 2020. Photo: Sion Hannuna/Shutterstock
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Bristol’s mayor has defended funding cuts to the arts after the city council confirmed that the Old Vic theatre’s funding will be slashed by two thirds.

The funding cut from £288,000 a year to £100,000 to the Old Vic theatre was confirmed on December 4 following a Bristol City Council meeting.

Entertainment union Equity and the Arts Council England have both previously condemned the cut, arguing that the engagement work of the theatre will be “hampered”.

Bristol Old Vic funding cuts challenged by Equity and Arts Council

Marvin Rees, mayor of Bristol, argued in a statement that he is still committed to funding the arts in Bristol, and has chosen to do so despite “the many calls to spend this money elsewhere”.

He said: “We are committed to supporting arts and culture growth in Bristol and have just agreed another set of funding that will see 33 organisations share over £700,000 to fund activity in communities across Bristol.

“That comes on top of significant investment in the cultural infrastructure of the city including grants for the Bristol Old Vic, Colston Hall and St George’s. Despite the many calls I get to spend this money elsewhere, we still believe there is a need to invest in a sector that delivers economic benefits and opportunities for communities.”

Rees argued that support from the council for arts and culture needs to to be “taken in context of other essential services” and that a “balance must be struck” in meeting the council’s budget gap.

He added: “I’m being challenged to find money for arts and I have. My challenge to the sector is to use the funding available to benefit as many people as possible, work with me and the cultural steering group to identify further opportunities and consider how, as a city, we can continue to support those in need and help communities realise their potential.”

Earlier this year, Bristol City Council approved £380k worth of cuts to its arts budget by 2020.

The Bristol Old Vic said it would comment further once it has assessed the full impact of the cuts.