Arts groups angry at loss of funding

Arts groups across East Anglia were furious last night at an impending "cull" in funding which will hit rural areas hard. Creative Arts East, which puts on plays and films in village halls across Norfolk, a nationally-renowned orchestra which has a residency in King's Lynn, and Norwich Puppet Theatre are among the groups which will between them see about £½m of arts funding disappear from Norfolk.

Arts groups across East Anglia were furious last night at an impending "cull" in funding which will hit rural areas hard.

Creative Arts East, which puts on plays and films in village halls across Norfolk, a nationally-renowned orchestra which has a residency in King's Lynn, and Norwich Puppet Theatre are among the groups which will between them see about £½m of arts funding disappear from Norfolk.

Among the reasons given for taking money away is that the group receiving it is "too reliant" on the funding.

The Arts Council England, which is in charge of handing out government support to the arts, says that most of the organisations it funds will receive an increase in support next year. But it is planning its biggest ever funding pull-out, despite an increase in its government grant for next year.


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Nationally, 195 organisations face having their funding withdrawn from April, while the other 700 will get increases at or above inflation.

The Arts Council yesterday refused to publish figures for this region, but it is believed that seven groups which work in Norfolk will have their funding halved or cut altogether.

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Organisations have been written to over the last week to tell them of the Arts Council's plans. They have until mid-January to convince it to change its mind, while a final decision will be made at a meeting on January 23. Although it is spending public money, members of the public will not be admitted and decisions will not be published until February.

Nicky Stainton, director of Wymondham-based Creative Arts East, said: "There has been a cull of some very good artistic organisations. It is quite unprecedented. Rural Norfolk is being penalised. The people who are most vulnerable, who are deprived, who are disabled or single parents and cannot get to the city to go to the theatre, are the ones who are losing out."

The City of London Sinfonia, one of the country's best orchestras, will lose all its Arts Council funding. It means there is a question mark over whether it can continue its residency in Lynn, where it performs concerts in the Corn Exchange and carries out educational work with local children.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council is believed to be losing all its Arts Council funding for a programme it runs for disabled people, as is Norwich-based Community Music East.

Commissions East, which was behind the compass design on the forecourt of Cromer Pier and a public art scheme in Fakenham, is set to lose half its funding. And the EDP reported last week that Eastern Angles touring theatre company will have to make cutbacks after losing £115,000, half its Arts Council funding. It also sees the change as "an attack on rural arts".

Arts Council spokesman Alex Taylor said most organisations they funded would receive an increase.

"Our recommendations have been carefully considered and are based on an organisation's performance and the Arts Council's strategic priorities, both regionally and nationally. We will continue to ensure that there is a wide range of product on offer to audiences in the East of England."

Is your organisation affected, for good or ill, by changes in Arts Council funding? Call us on 01502 712060.

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