Arts organisations in Norfolk count cost of cuts

Some of Norfolk's largest cultural organisations are facing a major rethink on spending as their funding from Arts Council England is slashed by almost 7pc.

The reduction, which comes into effect next year, will see funding for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival reduced by �28,535, the Writers' Centre Norwich losing �14,132, Norwich Arts Centre missing out on �8,488 and the British Centre for Literary Translation, based at the University of East Anglia, plugging a shortfall of �8,740.

Their money from the Arts Council could also be lost entirely from 2012 following the set-up of a new funding programme, details of which are due to be released on November 4. All organisations will be asked to re-apply for funding, which could see some receiving more money, some less and some none at all.

The measures were announced yesterday as part of the Arts Council's plan to reduce its own budget by 29.6pc as a result of the government's spending review.

Most of the county's affected organisations said they would try to manage the reduction with careful budgeting, but with expected cuts still looming from other supporters, including Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council, they found it difficult to predict how their future and that of the arts in Norfolk would fare.

Stuart Hobday, director of the Norwich Arts Centre, said the cuts potentially posed a threat to the venue which lives off small margins.

He said: 'A lot of work goes on behind the scenes in nurturing talent and the education of young people which is reliant on funding, and the venue itself depends on funding, but we're determined that we can either find funding from other sources or just work as hard as possible to keep going.'

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Mr Hobday urged people not to criticise investment in the arts as 'money down the drain'.

He added: 'It's obvious it's not a vital service compared to health or education but it's part of Norwich. People stay in Norwich because it's culturally important and vibrant.'

Jonathan Holloway, chief executive and artistic director of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, said it was too early to predict what effect the cuts would have on next year's festival.

'The cuts from the Arts Council, in addition to likely cuts from local authorities, mean that we will have to be innovative, courageous and strategic as we plan for the future,' he said.

Daniel Hahn, interim director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, added: 'Any funding cut potentially represents a blow, but we will do our utmost to absorb them by careful management and efficiency and are confident that we will be able to deliver another strong programme.'

Chris Gribble, chief executive of the Writers' Centre Norwich, said his organisation would need to be 'creative in making savings', but would be adaptable to the changes.

He added: 'The arts are what define us. It was Churchill during the war while talking about cuts in defence and cultural budgets asked, 'what are we going to be fighting for then?' The arts are about education, inspiration and the full spectrum of living, not about what things are worth but looking at the real value of things.'