A series of leading arts organisations, including the Birmingham Royal Ballet, will have their council grants cut by up to 20 per cent.

Grants to ten organisations will be reduced for the second time in three years – reducing Birmingham City Council’s subsidy to the arts by £1.4 million in 2014/15.

Among those hit are the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Performances Birmingham – which runs the Town Hall and Symphony Hall – the Birmingham Rep, Ikon and the Drum at Aston.

A range of individual projects and one-off grants will also be reduced, while a new strategy has been drawn up to attract more private support and funding for the range of festivals and special events in Birmingham.

The cut will see the total for Birmingham City Council arts grant funding reduced to £6,425,000.

Council deputy leader Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) said: “Faced with unprecedented cuts to our funding, we have to make difficult decisions about the council and the services it provides.

“Arts have to share the burden but we want to ensure that we continue to have a vibrant cultural scene, attracting investment and visitors whilst engaging with local residents. That is why we are still offering significant levels of support to the sector.

“We have also created a strategy to help us grow an exciting festivals programme for the city.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Aladdin
Birmingham Royal Ballet's Aladdin
 

“This initiative, in partnership with Arts Council England and the Business Improvement Districts, will support, develop and fund the arts and cultural festivals in the city through a co-ordinated approach enabling shared resources and capacity.

“By supporting the growth of festivals we can give a significant boost to this sector and the wider economy.”

The festival strategy is based on those developed in Rotterdam, Edinburgh and Montreal after a study concluded that Birmingham’s festivals have the potential to grow and make a stronger contribution to the economy.

Opposition Tory deputy leader Robert Alden said that they ‘broadly support’ the decision.

Former Lib Dem cabinet member for culture Martin Mullaney warned: “Many of these art organisations and art centres will collapse with this cut.”

But Mr Mullaney had in 2010 overseen a 17 per cent cut in funding and rationalised the list of organisations down to the ten currently in receipt of grants. Further cuts planned in 2011 and 2012 we postponed to give the organisations time to put robust business plans in place for their eventual withdrawal.

At the same cabinet meeting the plan to seek a ‘visionary’ organisation to run and promote the historic Old Rep Theatre was formally approved.

Councillor Ward said they were looking for someone to ‘breathe new life’ into the venue which is home to the Birmingham Stage Company and youth theatre as well as hosting both professional touring and local amateur dramatic productions.

The city council aims to reduce its running costs by £20,000 as well as encourage greater use of the Station Street theatre as it is currently under occupied being empty for about 20 weeks per year.

Grants to arts organisations in 2014/15 are: Performances Birmingham £1.985 million, CBSO £1.195 million, Birmingham Royal Ballet £730,000, Birmingham Rep £730,000, The Drum £380,000, Birmingham Opera Company £140,000, Ikon £84,500, Dancexchange £80,000, Ex Cathedra £47,500, Sampad £40,000. Many of these are also Arts Council funded.

The Mac receives a £540,000 in contract for services provide.

There are also grants totalling £350,000 for various projects and a further £123,457 for local arts projects.