Home   Ipswich   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Several counter proposals submitted as funding changes to the arts set to be discussed by Suffolk County Council





Several counter proposals have been submitted as the county council’s planned changes to arts funding are set to be discussed.

Suffolk County Council is proposing to cut the entirety of the £500,000 arts and heritage sector core funding element in exchange for setting up a grant pot of a similar amount which charities and organisations can apply for instead.

However, campaigners have said the decision to cut core funding would lead to insecurity within the sector and an inability to attract more investment.

The county council is proposing to cut the entirety of the £500,000 arts and heritage sector. Picture: submitted
The county council is proposing to cut the entirety of the £500,000 arts and heritage sector. Picture: submitted

Emma Buckmaster, the Green Party’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket constituency, has been working with Equity, the performing arts and entertainment trade union, to lobby the county council to maintain at least some of the core funding.

She said that, although the introduction of a grant funding pot was welcome and would help smaller organisations, a secure funding avenue allowed others like Theatre Royal to keep running some of its essential outreach work.

She said: “The sector is being hit by increased costs. All the expenses have gone up and, for them to reduce or lose their funding, is extremely problematic — this is vital for the sector. Obviously there just isn’t enough money for everything, it’s never enough, and we understand that and we’re not asking for more money.”

Campaigners have said the decision to cut core funding would lead to insecurity within the sector. Pictured: Emma Buckmaster, Green Party. Credit: Green Party
Campaigners have said the decision to cut core funding would lead to insecurity within the sector. Pictured: Emma Buckmaster, Green Party. Credit: Green Party

Ms Buckmaster and Equity’s proposal would see the council retaining £400,000 as core funding, while the remaining £100,000 would be used for smaller grants.

This change, she says, is a sensible approach to the problem and one which would be broadly supported by the nearly 4,000 supporters of an Equity-led petition for the council to re-think the planned changes.

She added: “All funding is good, I’m not saying any of it is bad, but grant funding is all very short term-ism, so our suggestion is to keep some of this core funding. I think it’s a reasonable request and I would be very sad if they don’t listen to the people they are representing.”

Other proposals have also been submitted by opposing groups within the council, however.

Cllr Andrew Stringer, who leads the Green, Liberal Democrat, and Independent at the county council
Cllr Andrew Stringer, who leads the Green, Liberal Democrat, and Independent at the county council

One of these is being proposed by Cllr Andrew Stringer, who leads the Green, Liberal Democrat, and Independent (GLI) group at the county council.

If approved, it would see £250,000 remaining as core funding, paid for through the council’s own reserves. This money would then go on to stay as the new core element for the sector for the following years.

The group’s proposals would also see a further £250,000 of Covid relief money being allocated to the sector as a grant pot, with discussions about how to keep the amount of funding consistent to take place in the next financial year.

Cllr Stringer said: “We’re trying to find some kind of compromise to knock off the worst impacts of this budget from those in Suffolk. Yes, we’d want to reverse all of the cuts but this is an acknowledgement of the situation the council’s finances are in.”

A motion to reverse the core funding cut has also been proposed by the Labour Group as part of a larger set of budget measures.

All of these proposals will be heard and discussed on Thursday when the council’s budget for the next financial year is discussed.