16 February 2023

Future of Artrix set to be discussed by Bromsgrove Council and by the holding trust

DISCUSSIONS surrounding the future of Bromsgrove’s Artrix will take place next week with the holding trust set to get together and the town’s Liberal Democrats having put a motion forward for Wednesday’s district council meeting.

The Lib Dems say they have put together a costed rescue package as part of their alternative budget.

They claim putting an extra 20p per month on the district council’s precept for the average council tax bill would raise enough funding to reinstate the £92,000 subsidy for the arts centre, adding ‘that would be enough to get the venue back on its feet’.

They said it equated to a one per cent rise on the district council’s slice – a 0.1 per cent rise overall – and the lowest earners were exempt from paying council tax so would be unaffected.

The Lib Dems say the prolonging uncertainty surrounding Artrix, which has been empty since it ceased as a Covid vaccination centre, heightened the risk of permanent closure.

The Conservative budget agreed at cabinet, but not yet by the whole council, offers no subsidy for Artrix. The financial plan will be debated and voted on at Wednesday’s meeting.

Artrix opened in 2005 and was initially subsidised with an annual £120,000 Bromsgrove District Council grant which was then reduced to £61,000-a-year.

Its operator went into administration during the Covid pandemic and, the Lib Dems say, the lack of a subsidy has hampered its reopening.

Last week Bromsgrove Arts Alive wrote an open letter – published in the Standard – appealing to Bromsgrove District Council to stop prevaricating and ‘rise to the challenge of making positive decisions regarding Artrix’s reopening.

Bromsgrove Lib Dem leader Coun Rob Hunter said: “Nobody wants to put more burden on local residents, especially during the cost of living crisis, but we think 20p-a-month represents the right balance between saving a much-loved and widely used community asset, and being fair to hard-pressed taxpayers.

“Unfortunately, it has become painfully clear there is no other way.

“The Conservatives simply do not have a plan and we all know it’s the last chance saloon for Artrix – If we don’t act now, we could lose it forever.”

Deputy council leader Geoff Denaro said: “This has not yet been debated and is coming up at council next week.

“It’s not at all clear why the Lib Dems think £92,000 will enable Artrix to reopen.”

He added the Artrix Holding Trustees had been working to determine the venue’s viability and when they next met would be advising of the next steps.

“I imagine once they have a viable business plan they will be approaching organisations for support with funding, which all arts venues must do.

“To date, they have not approached the council.

“I imagine it would also take a great deal more than £92,000 – or one per cent on the council tax – to get Artrix reopened again.”

The full council meeting takes place at 6pm on Wednesday, February 22, and the public are able to attend if they want.

* WHAT do you think? If it was an option, would you be prepared to pay extra council tax to see Artrix reopened? Email editor@bromsgrovestandard.co.uk with your views.