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Birmingham arts organisations protest proposed cuts as petition attracts 4,300 signatures

Birmingham Rep and Birmingham MAC, which are are among the organisations that may be affected. Photos: Richard Byrant/Craig Holmes Birmingham Rep and Birmingham MAC, which are are among the organisations that may be affected. Photos: Richard Byrant/Craig Holmes
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More than 4,300 people have signed a petition protesting proposed cuts to local authority arts funding in Birmingham.

Birmingham MAC and Birmingham Repertory Theatre are among the cultural organisations leading the petition to curb reductions in 2019/20.

It follows news in October that cultural organisations could face the effects of a 33% cut to Birmingham City Council’s total arts budget, which would be the third significant reduction of arts funding in four years.

An opposition councillor warned that further cuts could result in organisations “going bust”.

Now, an organisation called Culture Central, which is made up of members including Birmingham MAC, Birmingham Rep, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham Hippodrome, have created a petition calling on the council to remove the proposed cuts from the 2019 budget.

The petition states: “The proposed cuts would have a huge impact on Birmingham’s cultural sector which makes a vital contribution to this city’s economy and reputation, benefiting hundreds of thousands of Birmingham residents each year.

“The work of the organisations facing these cuts reaches out into the communities of the city with powerful effect and influence, directly supporting social and community engagement, and our work with young people and schools. The cuts proposed puts these vital arts programmes at risk.”

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. Funding has since remained at a standstill for a year.

The 2019 budget will go to the council’s cabinet at the end of January and a final version will be released in February.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Rep said: “The Rep, alongside other Birmingham arts organisations, is working on a campaign to halt the proposed cuts to funding for arts and culture in Birmingham City Council’s 2019/20 Budget.

“All the city’s arts organisations are asking people who appreciate the power of what we all do as cultural organisations to sign the petition. As a result of previous cuts the city council has made, The Rep’s annual grant has reduced by £900,000 in the last 10 years. The cuts they are now proposing would increase that figure to £1,000,000 per annum.”

Deborah Kermode, artistic director and chief executive at Birmingham MAC, said: “After receiving a substantial cut of 70% in the last round of funding from the council, a further reduction would be disappointing. However, we’re yet to receive any official confirmation from the council, so we will wait for further information.”

A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said the council was unable to comment while a public consultation of the budgets is ongoing.

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