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Council bosses warned over 'detrimental impact' of planned arts cuts

Stark warning to council chiefs over potential cuts to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Birmingham's museums generate £30 million a year for the city economy which will be put at risk if the council goes ahead with a £500,000 cut in funding, council bosses have been warned.

Director of the national Art Fund Stephen Deuchar has written an open letter to the council warning the cut in subsidy to the Birmingham Museum's Trust (BMT) could put further funding at risk.

Earlier this month, the trust announced that, if the cut went through in April, it could lead to opening times at the Museum and Art Gallery being reduced, some galleries and exhibits being closed and the possible closure of historic sites around the city.

The Art Fund has donated £3 million to Birmingham's Museums since 2010 but is warning drastic cuts could limit any future investment.

Mr Deuchar said: "BMT's activities extend far beyond the museums' walls and the Trust returns significant educational, social and economic dividends for residents of Birmingham and, in doing so, delivers on the council's commitment to cultural provision.

"In addition, each visit to one of BMT's sites generates around £30 for local businesses and, taken together, all BMT's museums and galleries are worth an annual £30 million to the local economy.

"Funding BMT offers a great return on investment.

"I am aware the council faces severe budget challenges and must take difficult decisions to make unprecedented levels of savings across its services.

"But, if the proposed cut to BMT is carried out, it will have a fundamental, long-term and detrimental impact upon BMT, substantially reducing the local, national and international public's access to its museums through potential closures and reduced opening hours.

"This, in turn, will limit the support that other funders are able to offer."

He urged the council, which is currently drawing up its final budget and business plan, to reduce the cut.

The council's Labour deputy leader Coun Ian Ward has previously stated they had little option to propose a cut in the light of drastic cuts in funding from the Government.

But added they would look carefully at the results of the public consultation over the budget before reaching a final decision.

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