27 May 2011
BECTU members will join other trade unionists working in the arts on Wednesday 15 June for a lobby of MPs to protest widespread cuts in funding.
The lobby, which runs from 14.30 at the House of Commons, will be preceded by a rally (from 13.00) at the Lecture Hall in Westminster Central Hall (opposite Westminster Abbey) to launch the Lost Arts Campaign and website.
Confirmed speakers so far include Maggie Steed (actor), David Edgar (playwright) and John Smith (general secretary, Musicians Union).
In March, the Arts Council announced a programme of cuts which threatens to remove funding from over 200 organisations whilst more than 300 face a cut in real terms.
Arts cuts affect local economies
Responding to that announcement, BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey, said:
“There are 200 arts organisations whose workforces are now facing unemployment – and there is nowhere those organisations can turn to 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."
Exeter's Northcott theatre is one established, innovative, regional venue threatened with the removal of all Arts Council funding.
Meet your MP on 15 June
Can't attend the lobby?
If you are unable to lobby your MP on the day, you can still write to him or her to show how strongly you feel about continuing support for the arts. Relaying your personal view to your elected representative about the impact of the proposed cuts either locally or nationally, will help to illustrate the key issues.
If you intend to write your own letter you may wish to:
- Introduce yourself as a constituent and say where you live and work.
- Explain in simple terms what the campaign is about as your MP may be unaware of the issues involved. In brief, BECTU believes that cutting expenditure on the arts is shortsighted and counter–productive since research shows that every £1 spent on the arts by the Arts Council attracts a further £2 of investment from private and commercial sources.
- If you can, give examples of how you are personally affected and how your workplace is affected
- Be specific about what you would like your MP to do (i.e. table or sign an Early Day Motion, contact the government/arts bodies to raise your concerns, raise the issues with the Minister, ask questions in Parliament).
- Ask your MP to keep in regular contact with you and to give you copies of any responses they receive from other MPs or the Secretary of State.
- Sign and print your name and include your address for a reply.
Identifying and contacting Your MP
- You can find your MP by typing your postcode into www.theyworkforyou.com; or writetothem.com; both sites allow you to send your MP a message by email.
Updated 7 June and 15 June, 10.25.
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