20 January 2015

Artrix funding cuts will undo good work, claims arts champions

TWO BROMSGROVE arts champions have 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 Jennie McGregor-Smith and Jim Page 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 the pair, who are members of Bromsgrove Arts Alive (BAA), 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."

Reprinted by kind permission of The Bromsgrove Standard