Nottingham slams council’s “devastating” arts cuts

Published: 6 March 2024
Reporter: Steve Orme

“Short-sighted decision”: Nottingham Playhouse

Arts organisations in Nottingham have criticised the city council’s decision to make a “devastating” 100% cut to its grants to the cultural sector.

The city council, which has effectively declared itself bankrupt, has confirmed it will stop its £197,056 contribution to the sector in 2024–25 as part of millions of pounds worth of savings.

Nottingham Playhouse, which will lose the whole of its £60,502 annual grant, says it is “deeply concerned”. In a statement, the theatre said it understood the council’s financial situation but believed a cut to its funding was “short-sighted”.

The statement added, “it will have minimal effect on their shortfall whilst having a negative impact on the important work we do as a charity for our community.

“The £60,502 cut is approximately the same cost of running our SHINE youth theatre groups or providing very low cost and free tickets through our 50:50, HotHouse and pay-what-you-can schemes for a whole year. We will now be reviewing our plans for 2024/25 as we seek ways to address this new funding gap.

“We would like to reassure everyone that Nottingham Playhouse remains open and committed to creating theatre that’s bold, thrilling and proudly made in Nottingham as we move forwards in this new funding reality.”

Nottingham Strategic Cultural Partnership, which includes organisations including the Playhouse, independent fringe theatre Nonsuch Studios and the Motorpoint Arena, added it was “troubled” to hear about the cuts.

“Nottingham is a city with a rich, diverse and unique cultural offer, boasting a thriving community made up of professionally led and amateur organisations, commercial and voluntary-run businesses and agencies across all the arts and heritage sectors.

“In the last financial year, the 14 cultural organisations surveyed by (cultural consultancy) Data Culture Change reached over 1.9 million visitors from across the UK and generated around £38 million in ticket sales alone.

“Our members believe that cutting culture is a false economy for the city council. It is the principal tourism attraction, a major driver for firms to relocate and an area in which our city punches high above its weight.”

The cuts were approved to try to plug a predicted £53 million budget gap. Council leader David Mellen said councillors had voted for the budget “with great reluctance” after government-appointed commissioners brought in to help run the council insisted on the package of cuts.

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