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Birmingham arts companies braced for further cuts in 2019/20

Birmingham Mac Birmingham Mac, which was hit by a 70% cut in 2017/18
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Arts organisations in Birmingham could face significant cuts for the third time in four years, despite a commitment from the council to maintain funding levels until 2020.

An opposition councillor has warned that further funding reductions to the city’s cultural organisations could see some “going bust” as a result.

Funding has remained at a standstill for a year, since 2017/18, when Birmingham Mac was hit by a 70% cut and Birmingham Repertory Theatre suffered a 62% cut.

The Labour-led Birmingham City Council has not yet released its 2019/20 budget, but it is understood arts organisations have been told by the council to expect a 33% cut to the total arts budget.

Arts funding in the city was reduced by £1.67 million (34%) to £3.17 million in 2017/18, on top of a 25% reduction in 2016/17.

Birmingham City Council committed to a standstill in funding for until 2019/20. However, they may be set to renege on this.

A further 33% cut would see the total budget for 2019/20 fall to £2.12 million, but it is unclear as to how this would affect individual organisations. The council’s budget plans will go before public consultation in November, with the full budget announced in January 2019.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Mac said: “Having already received substantial cuts of 70% in the last round of funding cuts from the council, a further reduction in funding would be disappointing.

“However, we’re yet to receive any official confirmation from the council, so we will wait for further information.”

A Birmingham Rep spokeswoman added that they had been warned of a potential further funding cut.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said: “As has been widely reported, cuts made by central government to local authority funding means Birmingham – along with many other councils – is faced with significant financial pressures.

“Every year the city council produces budget proposals that go out for public consultation; this process will start shortly and therefore no decisions have been made at this stage.”

Ewan Mackey, a Conservative councillor, said: “From speaking to arts organisations there is a real sense of betrayal here.

“Just 12 months ago they were told that their funding would be protected for two years following two years of seeing their grants reduce by 25% and then 34%.”

He added: “If Labour do push ahead with this proposal there is no doubt in my mind that we will see organisations going bust while much of the outreach work that the larger organisations do will be decimated.”

Mackey argued that it was “immoral” that the arts and culture sector was being “taken advantage of and punished for the Labour council’s failures” in spending.

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