THE ORGANISATION which represents the arts in Bromsgrove warned that proposed funding cuts to Artrix could undo all the good work done by people in the venue’s first decade.
The calls from Bromsgrove Arts Alive (BAA) come after plans by the district council to slash the amount the centre receives from £120,000-a-year to £60,000.
The School Drive venue, which cost £2.6million, opened in 2005 and its name was chosen by readers of The Standard after we ran a competition with the centre.
The district council provided an initial start-up grant of £40,000 and then agreed to give £1.2million over ten years.
That agreement comes to an end in March and this week, two members of BAA – Jennie McGregor-Smith and Jim Page – wrote to The Standard, warning of the consequences of the funding reduction and calling on the council to reconsider its decision.
“Council support over the past ten years has been an investment that has paid off handsomely.
“Our arts centre is one of the very best in the Midlands, of which we are very proud.
“If the council’s cut is as planned it will affect so many people.
“Ticket prices will have to go up so people won’t attend so often, charges for hiring the theatre will go up so organisations will have to go to church halls instead, and the schools won’t be able to afford to perform there.
“The number of performances will be cut – a theatre that is dark loses money – and Artrix won’t be able to bring in such excellent performers so people from other areas won’t bother to travel here, and many thousands of Bromsgrove people will lose out.”
Bromsgrove District Councillor Mike Webb, whose portfolio includes finance and leisure services, said: “In 2013 after extensive discussions with all parties, members decided that although Artrix had successfully become profitable, funding to support access to it, particularly for young people across the district, would continue beyond that initial deal.
“To that end £60,000 a year was allocated in the Medium Term Financial Plan to start this year.
“We’re pleased that this council remains in the financial position to be able to continue to support the excellent work that the Artrix does.”
Ros Robins, Artrix’s interim director, said: “Discussions with Bromsgrove District Council regarding future funding for Artrix are ongoing.
“Whilst we are concerned at the devastating effect that a halving of funding would have on the programme offered at Artrix, and the effective operation of the venue, we will continue to try and influence the recommendation until the point at which the final decision is made.”
Here is the letter sent in by the BAA members which will also appear in full in this week’s Standard:
THE UNDERSIGNED are members of Bromsgrove Arts Alive, an organisation representing some 5,000 people who not only are involved in arts societies but are part of the regular audience for – or performers in – events at Artrix. It worries us considerably that Bromsgrove District Council intends to cut support for Artrix by half.
The arts – drama, music, dance, comedy, film, exhibitions – have been proved in various national surveys to help the economy of an area. We in Bromsgrove are so fortunate not only to have a full programme of very varied events offered to us, but one of a quality that attracts audiences from other areas who eat at local restaurants and spend money in the town.
Council support over the past ten years has been an investment that has paid off handsomely. Our arts centre is one of the very best in the Midlands, of which we are very proud. It has not only a paper mailing list of 5,000 people, but also an emailing list of 20,000 – all of whom are patrons. These include people from all strata of society who can now enjoy quality events nearly every day of the year, or attend classes for ballet or singing, without leaving the town.
If the council’s cut is as planned it will affect so many people. Ticket prices will have to go up (so people won’t attend so often), charges for hiring the theatre will go up (so organisations will have to go to church halls instead, and the schools won’t be able to afford to perform there), the number of performances will be cut (a theatre that is dark loses money) and Artrix won’t be able to bring in such excellent performers (so people from other areas won’t bother to travel here, and many thousands of Bromsgrove people will lose out).
We and other members of Bromsgrove Arts Alive – www.bromsgroveartsalive.co.uk – hope that the council will reconsider its decision.
Bromsgrove Arts Alive