Arts body's pledge over funding cut fear

The funding body that holds the purse strings for arts groups across East Anglia last night moved to reassure that any cash cuts have not been “set in stone” and more than half of all groups are on track to get more money.

The funding body that holds the purse strings for arts groups across East Anglia last night moved to reassure that any cash cuts have not been “set in stone” and more than half of all groups are on track to get more money.

It emerged last week that groups such as orchestras and theatres which rely on government money could suffer a cut in funding to the tune of £500,000 when the Arts Council England announces its investment in the arts for 2008.

Norwich Puppet Theatre and Creative Arts East, which put on plays and films in village halls across Norfolk, have already been warned that they could lose out on a pot of cash from the Treasury, and have four weeks to convince the Arts Council to continue their financial support.

Nationally, 195 organisations face having their funding withdrawn from April, while the other 700 will get increases at or above inflation.


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Helen Lax, director of arts and development at Arts Council England East, explained that the body had plenty of possible good news for a host of arts groups that had been recommended for more money - but the details could not be revealed until the share for each group had been decided at the end of January.

She said the information appeared “skewed” because those at risk had been notified to give them a chance to fight their corner, but all those in the running for money have not.

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“The frustration is that it would appear that the Arts Council is not revealing all at the moment, but we are not able to talk about the good news as well as the bad news,” she said. “The issue is that we have a four-week period in which the people who may have their funding cut can respond to us and will then either have our investment in them renewed, or have it cut.

“What we can say is that there is good news for the region as well, and the majority - 65pc - of people on our portfolio are on inflation or above inflation.”

“At the moment nothing is set in stone, it's a matter of budgeting,” added Ms Lax.

“We get a certain amount of money and we cannot talk about the increases because we haven't made a final decision on the clients that we are recommending for non-renewal.”

She added that factors that could mean a group would lose out included not being able to fulfil the Arts Council's priorities and under- performance. The Arts Council is also on the look-out for new talent ideas and is keen to ensure a spread of cash throughout the six counties.

A final decision will be made at meeting on January 23, with details published expected in early February.

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