Greens condemn arts funding cuts in England and Wales
Green Party conference notes the announcements by Arts Council England in December and January delivering news of dramatic cuts in funding or complete cessation of funding to 25% of its regularly funded organizations.
Conference notes that this blow comes on top of reductions in arts funding due to the Olympics, and the government's dubious practice of funding artistic endeavor through the national Lottery.
Conference notes that 500 of the country's top actors - including Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen, last month passed an unprecedented vote of no confidence in the ACE, labeling the cuts destructive and saying that they would force many small groups and theatres to close.
Conference notes the Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey described the cuts as "absolutely shocking" and director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner was moved to describe the cuts as "bollocks".
Conference express its disappointment to hear from elected Green Councillors in Norwich about the threat from cuts to the Norwich Puppet Theatre, from Greens in London about the cessation of funding to the London Musician's Collective, from Green Councilors in Brighton about £136,000 worth of cuts to the Komedia comedy club. Other national examples include the City of London Sinfonia,The London Mozart Players, Contemporary Music Making for Amateurs, north London's 25-year old Pop Up theatre for children, and the Drill Hall, one of the UK's leading homes for lesbian and gay theatre.
Conference further notes that a number of organizations only had their funding protected from ACE's aggressive strategy due to the outcry from the arts sector, from the general public and from audience members, which caused last minute reconsiderations in January. Narrowly-saved organizations therefore include the Ipswich-based Eastern Angles touring theatre company, Exeter's only theatre, the Northcott, London's innovative Bush alternative theatre company, the National Student Drama Festival, Film London, Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation), the African and Caribbean Music Circuit, the Crafts Council and Queer Up North.
Conference expresses its bitter disappointment at the strategy of Arts Council England, in making aggressive sweeping cuts across the nation without proper consultation with artists and arts organizations. ACE Chief Exec Alan Davey admits "this has been the most far-reaching review of public funding of the arts in the history of the Arts Council and the first we have conducted as a single national organisation".
Conference further condemns the government policy that has allowed this situation to develop, and the evidently unbearable pressure put on the ACE by government that induced such action in the first place.
Conference calls upon the Green Party External Communications Co-ordinator and the Green Party press office to communicate this position to the media without delay.