Writers’ Guild calls for action over council arts cuts

Published: 3 March 2024
Reporter: Steve Orme

Facing big cuts: Birmingham Rep Credit: Ross Jukes

The West Midlands branch of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain is calling on members across the Midlands to get involved in action against cuts to the arts.

The Guild is asking anyone “appalled” by cuts to arts in the Midlands to take part in the #CultureMatters campaign led by Culture Central, the “collective voice of the cultural sector in the West Midlands”, by sharing an image on social media of why culture and creativity matter.

Members of creative unions will meet outside Birmingham Rep at 4:30PM on Tuesday 5 March to walk to the Council House to join a larger demo in Victoria Square at 5PM when councillors are due to sign off the 2024–25 budget.

The city council effectively declared itself bankrupt in 2023. Now it has to make savings of £300 million, with up to 600 employees facing redundancy. Proposals include cutting investment in the cultural sector by 60% in 2024 and 100% in 2025. Among the organisations to be affected are Birmingham Rep, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Sampad which promotes South Asian arts and culture.

Similar demonstrations will take place in Nottingham on Monday 5 March from 12:30PM at the Council House and at the Robin Hood statue in the city centre from 2PM on Saturday 9 March.

Nottingham city council has also effectively declared itself bankrupt. It needs to save £50 million and its budget proposals for 2024–25 include plans to “cease contributions to the cultural sector” which in 2023–24 amounted to £198,000.

The Guild is also encouraging people to sign a petition set up by the Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands urging the BBC to allocate more of its spending to the region. It follows an announcement in 2023 that the BBC is axing the soap opera Doctors which is filmed in Birmingham.

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