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30 March 2011

BECTU condemns Arts Council cuts and warns of blighting of communities.

BECTU is warning of redundancies and company closures across Britain on top of thousands of job losses in the arts, as the scale of the Arts' Council cuts became clear this morning (30 March).

The Arts Council of England announced that more than 200 arts organisations will lose their funding, in addition to more than 300 facing a cut in real terms. Among those losing out are the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and the Derby Theatre whose funding is being axed, which contradicts the Arts Council's statement today that the backbone of regional theatre was being "increased by 1.1 per cent in cash terms".

BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, commented:

“There are 200 arts organisations whose workforces are now facing unemployment – and there is nowhere those organisations can turn for alternative funding, despite the government’s blithe protestations that enlightened rich people might care to dip their hands in their pockets.

“Economic studies over many years have shown the beneficial economic effect arts organisations have on their communities. The impact of the closure of an arts organisation will ripple out across the community – many small private sector companies supply their services to the arts organisations and closure could tip these hard-pressed companies over the edge as could a major scaling back of their business needs."

As news began filtering out of who faced cuts, BECTU condemned the incomprehensible funding decisions that on the one hand included axeing the funding of the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and the Derby Theatre, a 39 per cent budget cut for the Almeida theatre and a 22 per cent cut at the Talawa Theatre Company – but on the other hand a 190 per cent increase for English Pen, 82.1 per cent for the Arcola and the Barbican up by 108 per cent.