​Birmingham City Council announce “alarming” culture budget cuts

today21/02/2024 7

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Birmingham City Council has announced major cuts to its culture budget across the next two years in order to fill a budget shortfall of £300 million.

On Monday, Birmingham City Council made a statement explaining that savings of more than £300m “need to be made over the next two financial years” after declaring itself bankrupt last year.

The planned cuts are the largest in local authority history and will be made across the cultural sector impacting music venues, galleries, theatres, and other cultural institutions in Birmingham.

“The proposed cuts to council culture budgets confirm what many of us working in arts, culture, entertainment, music and NTE in Birmingham have known for some time,” explains Lyle Bignon, UK music consultant and Night Time Economy Ambassador for the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) in Birmingham.

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“Our city’s council, regional authorities, and key agencies have simply not placed enough value on culture over the years, despite its proven social and economic benefits.”

Amongst the institutions with slashed budgets is Birmingham International Dance Festival, which is set to lose £350,000 of funding, and Sampad, a Birmingham-based arts centre celebrating and platforming British South Asian art communities. Sampad will face a 50% cut to funding this financial year, and a 100% cut next year, Birmingham Live reports.

Other regularly funded arts organisations facing budget cuts include City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, IKON Gallery, and a music-focused charity, B:Music.

Support for Black History Month and Birmingham Heritage Week will not be affected in the first two years, but both will face a 100% cut from 2025 – 2026.

“[These] announcements sound a major alarm for Birmingham’s creative community as well as cultural professionals and audiences across the UK,” Bignon says.

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“Birmingham culture will thrive despite these enormous setbacks, however, a large proportion of responsibility for any future cultural deprivation within the city’s communities must be laid squarely at the door of previous council leaders and their administrations.”

On top of the budget changes, Birmingham City Council also announced a 9.99% increase to council tax for the next two years – and a 21% rise in council tax by 2026.

In a statement released on Monday, Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr John Cotton apologised “unreservedly” for both the “significant spending reductions and this year’s substantial council tax increase”.

“We have no alternative than to face these challenges head-on,” he said. “And we will do whatever is necessary to put the council back on a sound financial footing.”

Read the full statement from Birmingham City Council here.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag’s Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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