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£500,000 funding boost for arts fails to resolve concerns after £528,000 cuts proposed





A county-wide funding pot to support the arts has been proposed in the wake of plans to remove grant funding.

The funds would be delivered from the financial year starting in 2025, with the Government making £600 million of additional funding available to councils.

It comes after Suffolk County Council announced plans to cut £528,000 of core funding from arts and heritage organisations as it attempts to balance its books.

Eye, Suffolk, 13/12/2023Latest exhibition Light & Form, showcasing 28 artists has opened at The Bank in Eye, pictured is Art Director Abbie Schug. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2023
Eye, Suffolk, 13/12/2023Latest exhibition Light & Form, showcasing 28 artists has opened at The Bank in Eye, pictured is Art Director Abbie Schug. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2023

The new funding will mean it has £500,000 open to organisations, which have cautiously welcomed the news.

Abbie Schug, art director at The Bank in Eye, told the Diss Express that the new funding did not resolve all problems faced by arts venues, or excuse the initial cuts, with dozens of people gathering outside the county council’s HQ this week to protest at the planned cuts.

“Many arts organisations – and all those that protested at Endeavour House on Tuesday – are unsatisfied with the proposed replacement,” she said.

“The replacement funding could provide opportunities for organisations and groups of all sizes to receive some funding, so, in theory, it would support the county’s creative sector better, but it does not excuse the 100 per cent cut of core funding to the six organisations and three museums that will no longer have guaranteed financial support.

“Furthermore, the replacement pot is still £28,000 less than what is being cut. This means that funding and resources will be further stretched.

“We are not denying that the council has an extremely difficult task of balancing its finances overall; it’s a very weighted decision to make, but the sector is looking for greater support overall.”

Cabinet member Richard Rout described the government announcement as “a credit to our MPs”, adding: “The announcement from government just a couple of days ago is absolutely welcome, and is a credit to councils across the country for the lobbying which has paid off. We estimate that Suffolk will see around £7.2 million as a result of this extra investment.

“This successful lobbying enables us to make today’s welcome proposal of new project funding for Suffolk’s arts and heritage organisations.

“However, given the wider pressures we face caring for vulnerable individuals, we must take a considerable amount of money from our reserves to balance our budget. That simply cannot continue.

“On top of this, there are still millions of pounds that we need to save in the coming years.

He added: “We recognise the value of the arts and cultural sector in Suffolk and this was never a reduction we wanted to propose.

“There are many brilliant arts and heritage organisations in Suffolk that have not benefited from our funding that now will.”

Cordelle Sheldon, one of the protesters outside Endeavour House, said: “The cuts are the wrong thing to do – it’s shortsighted when there are other cuts the council could make.

“It’s an area we take for granted but, when you dig a little deeper, you understand these groups do so much good work.”



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