Arts funding is under threat

PUBLISHED: 12:22 11 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

A QUESTION mark is hanging over the future of the arts in East Cambridgeshire after fears that the district council could cut its grant by a massive £70,000. The cost-saving decision would mean a 40 per cent drop in funding and could lead to the loss of

A QUESTION mark is hanging over the future of the arts in East Cambridgeshire after fears that the district council could cut its grant by a massive £70,000.

The cost-saving decision would mean a 40 per cent drop in funding and could lead to the loss of other grants match funded against the council's contribution.

If agreed by councillors today (Thursday), the move leaves the future of Ely's cinema, Babylon Gallery and district-wide arts events in the melting pot.

Other organisations which, in turn, receive grants from arts development organisation, ADeC could also lose out.

The grant reduction is being discussed after almost 50 per cent of residents surveyed last year about council tax budget savings said less money should be spent on the arts.

"We haven't had time to explore fully the possible impact of this new proposed cut," said ADeC director, Jane Wilson. "However, a 40 per cent reduction in funding would mean a significant change to the level of service delivered on behalf of East Cambridgeshire District Council to local residents."

"One of the ongoing challenges for ADeC is to help people recognise the depth and breadth of the services we deliver, such as the cinema and activities for young people, which are often not seen as part of the 'arts'."

She added that a research survey commissioned last year proved there was a need for a full-time cinema in the district.

"We see this as a real opportunity that would generate more income," she said.

"We will be making representations to the council saying that if we work together, we can find a better approach to saving money."

ADeC has an income of around £400,000. But the council claims its grant contribution accounts for less than 50 per cent of turnover.

Darren Dixon, East Cambridgeshire District Council's head of leisure and tourism, told members of the community services committee in a report: "Mindful of the implications of a budget reduction, the council is committed to working with ADeC over the coming months to support them in the development of a sustainable and commercial programme for arts and entertainment delivery for 2008/9 with a focus on opportunities for income generation."

Cllr Peter Cresswell, chairman of the council's community services committee, said: "With central Government putting more and more pressure on district councils to find efficiency savings, we have to look very hard at the external bodies we support.

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