Dear Editor, We were somewhat surprised by the dramatic headline and story in the Birmingham Post (Culture in Crisis, December 15, 2011).
Last Monday’s cabinet decision was seen by the city’s principal arts venues and companies in receipt of grant funding as the best possible outcome given the fiscal situation.
A freeze in funding for the arts is certainly challenging.
However, Birmingham’s arts organisations and council officers have worked very hard to reach a point where the elected members can maintain Birmingham’s support for the arts whilst the sector continues its work to reduce costs and identify new income streams.
We are grateful for the backing which politicians of all parties have given the plan we put forward.
It is true that cuts in arts funding applied during this financial year have had an impact.
It would certainly be the case that any further cuts in 2012-14 would have led to periods of ‘‘dark’’ stages, fewer productions, job losses, increased ticket prices and even the demise of companies.
We made that clear to the council.
Given the decision, we are confident that we can continue to deliver the high quality and diverse programme of artistic activity that has become such a hallmark of Birmingham.
Next year is a milestone in Birmingham’s cultural scene.
The arts can play a pivotal role in the economic recovery, supporting jobs, growth, investment and Birmingham’s reputation on the global stage.
The Olympics represents a major tourism opportunity and a chance for Birmingham to shine with special events including CBSO’s Weltethos, the REP’s Forests and Birmingham Hippodrome’s Voyage, as well as the International Dance Festival Birmingham led by DanceXchange and supported by the Dancing for the Games. The year will also see Symphony Hall’s 21st, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s 25th and mac Birmingham’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
Culture, like many other sectors, faces a challenging period. However, given the vote of confidence from the council’s cabinet and whilst it makes for a bold headline, it is unrepresentative to characterise the position as a “crisis.”
Birmingham Arts Partnership
On behalf of: CBSO, BCMG, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham Jazz, Birmingham Opera Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet,
DanceXchange, The Drum, Ex Cathedra, Ikon, mac,
Performances Birmingham, Birmingham REP and Sampad