Norfolk and Norwich Festival speaks of funding fears

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 December 2014

The People's Tower -  a cardboard replica of St Peter Mancroft Church built during the 2014 Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley

The People's Tower - a cardboard replica of St Peter Mancroft Church built during the 2014 Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Picture: Denise Bradley


One of Norwich and Norfolk’s biggest arts festivals could lose a significant part of its funding.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival Facts

• As well as running the May arts festival, the Norfolk and Norwich Festival also manages the Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios event and Norfolk and Norwich Festival Bridge which has a mission to increase arts opportunities for young people in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

• The 2014 festival spanned 17 days and featured nearly 1,200 artists from six continents. More than 70,000 people attended festival events and more than 40,000 people enjoyed the free events.

• 56pc of children taking part in NNF’s school’s workshops said it was the first time they had experienced arts and culture in this way.

• Economic activity generated by the festival in 2014 was more than £3 million.

• The Norfolk and Norwich Festival turnover is £2.4m.

• The festival also currently receives funding from Arts Council England (£793,000) and Norwich City Council (£120,000). It has sponsorship deals with organisations such as Abellio Greater Anglia, Adnams and Lafarge Tarmac and works in partnerships with other arts organisations and networks to share the cost of productions.

• The festival directly provides 144 jobs (excluding contracts with local suppliers/companies and artists) and 120 volunteering opportunities.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s funding from County Hall could be cut by about £76,700 in 2015/16, and there are fears this could have a serious impact on the May arts extravaganza.

In the current year the festival received £83,400 from Norfolk County Council but for next year it believes it could be given just £6,700. The festival’s intended artistic spend for its 2015 festival is about £900,000.

Artistic director William Galinsky stressed the festival realised the county council needed to make savings, but called on the council to work with the festival to find a different way forward.

He also urged the festival’s supporters to speak out against the proposal.

Other arts organisations that could be affected by the budget cuts

About 20 arts organisations could be affected by the potential cuts to Norfolk County Council’s arts budget.

Peter Wilson, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, said: “Norwich Theatre Royal receives a limited public subsidy each year from Norfolk County Council’s arts budget and, with other arts organisations across Norfolk, is waiting be told about the level of cuts to that budget.

“There is no complaint from any of us that we will be asked to contribute to the council’s austerity measures, but we do think that council representatives would be interested to know the value which Norfolk people put on the arts generally, whether in Lynn, Sheringham, Yarmouth or Thetford - or Norwich.

“We’d urge everyone to make their voices and feelings heard by participating in the County Council’s consultation on its website at”

Arts organisations that could be affected, though how much is not yet clear, include: Cinema Plus, Community Music East, Creative Arts East, The Garage, King’s Lynn Arts Centre, King’s Lynn Festival, Maddermarket Theatre, Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich Playhouse, Norwich Puppet Theatre, Norwich Theatre Royal, SeaChange Trust, Sheringham Little Theatre, St George’s Theatre, Thalia Theatre Company, Welborne Arts Festival, Westacre River Studios, Writers’ Centre Norwich and Wymondham Music Festival.

“We know this is not going to get any easier,” said Mr Galinsky.

“We think the best case scenario here is two things – first of all is that the council agrees to work with us to maybe a three year reduction strategy, and we hope not a complete exit strategy, because then at least we can plan, then at least we can work up partnerships or grant-making trusts or new sponsors for 2016 and 2017. We need three years to replace that amount of money.

“The second thing is a commitment from the council not to turn its back on the arts and culture because this looks like it could be an exit and I think that would be tragic.”

The council is having to make savings across its services, and a public consultation is running until December 19. It has already agreed 2015/16 savings of £40m and is consulting on proposals for a further £12.9m of cuts – of this £150,000 is being proposed to be taken from the arts. Last year the council reduced its overall arts budget by £92,250

The May festival has grown to be one of the largest arts festivals in the UK, attracting acts from around the world, engaging with 70,000 people in 2014, with 40,000 people enjoying the festival’s free events.

“We’re one of those offers that is shouting to the world about what an amazing place this is,” Mr Galinsky said.

“Talk to and work with us, be strategic, you [the council] don’t want to lose what you have invested in and what you’ve helped us create.”

Some 2015 Norfolk and Norwich Festival events have already been announced – including the outdoor spectacle Wolf’s Child at Felbrigg Hall - and the festival has said it was extremely unlikely these shows would be jeopardised at this point.

When asked what the potential funding cut could mean, Mr Galinsky added: “It may mean there is less free work, it may mean that we need to look at the number of days we do the Spiegeltent, it might mean a shorter festival, it might do, it might mean less education work, it might mean a less exciting, a less inclusive festival, it might be the beginning of a decline.”

He said in the long run it could prove more difficult to put on the big projects which make the festival really stand out and be seen as “world class.”

He added: “If you love the festival as much as we do, please take three minutes, go online, fill out the consultation document and if you feel even further moved write to Paul Smyth, chair of the county council’s communities committee, asking the council to work with the festival to manage the speed and scale of these proposed funding cuts.”

Paul Smyth, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “Over the past four years our central government funding has been cut by £85 million and the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week indicated this prolonged austerity will continue for several years to come.

“Over the same period demand for services has increased, so the Council must take some tough decisions in order to balance its budget. But the vast savings required cannot be achieved through efficiency measures alone so other cutbacks will have to take place.

“Obviously, the council’s priority is to protect essential services, especially those that help the most vulnerable in our county, so a reduction in arts funding is inevitable. The council is therefore proposing to cut its arts budget by £150,000 and it has written to the organisations that might be affected by this saving to provide them with advanced notice that their funding may be reduced.

“If members of the public wish to express their views on this proposal we would welcome their participation in the ongoing formal budget consultation which ends on 19 December.”

• People can take part in the consultation until December 19 by visiting, emailing or phoning 0344 800 8020. You can also visit or tweet using #norfolkbudget

• What do you think about the arts funding situation? Write to


  • Not every event or piece in a festival programme should automatically appeal to everyone. Variety is what makes an even like NNF important because it gives people the chance to see something they wouldn't otherwise and maybe discover something new. As for the notion that artists should perform or exhibit for free, it's nonsense. The arts are already culturally undervalued, if the artists themselves refuse to value their own work (and by extension their own time) then there's no hope.

    Report this comment

    Thomas Haley

    Sunday, December 7, 2014

  • Seems to me that when the taxpayer is forced to pay the artistes, then you get the artistes the project manage chooses for you. This isn't necessarily the artistes you want. It's much better when artistes are funded by voluntary entrance fees, this sorts out the true artistes from the otherwise.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • Hey, No problem! The Big Society'll be along to make up the cuts.....probably...;-)

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • All a bit elitist for me.Half of this event is not even art just appealing to the usual ghastly suspects,who do not understand the concept of the first rule of commerce.Nothing is free,and their bohemian lifestyles cannot rely on tax payers picking up the bill with grants and throwing money around like confetti to massage some of this tosh.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • My first thought is that the council grant is a massive reduction,in fact almost insulting,but my second is that they will milk the festival for all they are worth as far as the publicity they can muster for what William Galinsky seemingly perceives as a world wide advert for the art scene that is Norwich. As for myself,hopefully Mr Galinsky might read at least the first eight posts on here and realise that his 'baby' is not all its cracked up to be.One assumes that most of the performers are paid but it has to be said that there has been some real dross over the years and would struggle to make money busking on the Walk.Of coure I accept that there is undoubtably some very good entertainement to be seen at the Festival but as has been said,at some considerable personal cost and they have to be applauded for using venues both near and far to widen the experience.What ierks me is the time research and ultimately money,however it is spent,that is wasted on itemsactsperformances that are so far removed from the general publics perception of 'entertainement' it's untrue. Some that spring to mind,a red ball stuffed into holes and doorways,a dolls house that some guy was supposedly able to lay in,an 'artist' who painted a line of paint in the what was then a derelect Westlegate Tower.As if to add insult to injury it will be described in the official programme as some inner meaning of life or some such drivel.

    Report this comment

    Trevor Sadd

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • I meant free museum entry in London.

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    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • Various points here. We need to keep funding the arts - a lot of the NNF events are free and a lot of people go to the free events. The cardboard St Peter Mancroft was brilliant - loads of people participated and came together for it. Central Government (which is just throwing £78 million at a performing arts space in Manchester) has cut local government to the bone. we need more autonomy here, more ability to raise our own money for local services. We should not be put in a position whereby we are supposed to choose between the arts or Children's services or museums. Norfolk seems to do very badly out of central government and there is something strange about the fact that you can visit the best museums in the country there for free but there are no free entry museums in Norfolk.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • The NNF Open Studios programme should have special merit for showcasing the work of artists and creatives in Norwich and Norfolk. This is a great example of grass roots culture, and perfectly compliments the formal events in the NNF. I hope Open Studios is safeguarded in the future.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • Cultural festivals are a mark of the civilisation of a place, something other to do apart from shopping, watching TV or intellectually vegetating. However the NNF is bloated and is more miss than hit. Paying £15 to walk along the beach was totally outrageous middle class tosh. But the big red ball in the city centre was huge fun, free and funky. The Spiegeltent is a big hit. Maybe less is more. Edit the festival, make it pay its own way, get sponsorship and charge higher prices for fewer but better quality international talent. Otherwise hard up taxpayers are paying for the entertainment of people who really can afford to pay for it themselves.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • @Iceni Warrior : A true artist gets PAID for their work as that is how they earn a living. Only enthusiastic amateurs work for free. On a separate note, do you realise how pretentious you sound writing posts in the 3rd person?

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • I love the Speigeltent. But saying that, I can only ever pick one of two things that appeal to me, or warrant the ticket price. 90% of the rest of the Festival programme isn't to my taste. I think here in lies the problem for them - a lot of it isn't commercially viable in its own right. It just doesn't appeal to the masses enough. They will have to find a way to only select things which will sell out venues. And if the free stuff goes then so be it. I don't see where that council £80,000 was going. In my opinion there wasn't 80ks worth of free to access activities anyway. And surely the council shouldn't be paying money to subsidise events where people have to buy a high price ticket to access.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • The number of days the Speigeltent is in Chapelfield Gardens shouldn't need to be reduced because ticket sales should be paying for it. However, the problem may be that the wrong, unpopular acts are being booked. If even with the tent being full and it's not making money then the NNF should look at using other venues like the award winning Norwich Arts Centre as an alternative. This might be a win, win situation. Use and celebration of more, excellent local musical talent would be good too. The Speigeltent and Chapelfield Gardens, however is an excellent hub for the festival - a great place to hang out.

    Report this comment

    Rich Hartt

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • The cuts are definitely in order,essential services need to be the priority!It use t be a Triennial Festival ! every three years.Its all too gimicky with mostly circus acts.There is enough talent in Norwich and Norfolk to sustain a festival !!

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • Iceni Warrior Says - a true artist performs for performance sake, never mind the fee. If the cuts deter acts to come from all over the world then we know why they came beforehand. But wait - if it's a Norfolk and Norwich Festival why need expensive acts from all over the world? Certainly the acts should come from Norfolk and Norwich indeed to truly represent Norfolk and Norwich. Iceni Warrior will express the view to the proposal that the cuts are in order.

    Report this comment

    Iceni Warrior

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • I fully agree with Only Me, the money could be spent on far more important things than building cardboard replica's

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

  • This is such an elitist event the council should wuthdraw funding completely.

    Report this comment

    Only Me

    Saturday, December 6, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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