Shropshire Council is to end its funding for arts organisations, venues and festivals through its Revenue Client Grant Scheme. The Community Arts and Festivals Service is being disbanded and only one part-time arts development officer will remain.
The grant scheme was used by many organisations in the county as a seed corn funding to leverage larger grants out of the Arts Council and lottery. Thirty-two arts organisations and festivals were supported through the Revenue Client Grant Scheme in 2014/15, levering in at least £100,000 from grants and earned income.
The loss of the scheme will make it much harder for smaller arts organisations and festivals in the country to survive and thrive.
We are of course short of money. That’s why it is important to support actions that bring in funds from other sources, not just in the arts, but also museums and libraries. This makes the limited funding we have go much further. Instead, Shropshire Council seems to be withdrawing from everything but its flagship projects in Shrewsbury. Our cultural organisations contribute a lot to the quality of life of residents and to the enjoyment of visitors. It is short-sighted to cut back on funding that brings huge benefits and jobs to the county.
The council announced the cancellation of the arts funding in an email to arts organisations across the county (but it was not sent to councillors). This is an edited version:
The Council will be changing the way it supports the Arts Sector and the Art Development Officer role.
Unfortunately, from 1st April 2016 the Council will no longer be in a position to directly fund arts organisations, venues and festivals through the Revenue Client Grant Scheme.
The Council will retain a part-time Arts Development Officer post.
The future role, which will have a strategic focus will include:
- Providing leadership on arts development issues, training, project management and support. Developing and delivering arts focused training for the arts sector and those delivering arts activity.
- Delivering some arts activity where there are gaps in provision that other providers or methods of working cannot fill, where a need has been highlighted by the community, the activity meets corporate objectives and funding is available and can be sources and the activity is sustainable.
- Advocating for the arts in Shropshire on behalf of the whole community and hold a broad overview of county, regional and national provision and local arts issues.
We understand these changes will have an impact on your organisation.
We very much appreciate the important role your organisation plays in delivering high quality arts provision across the County and are committed to supporting you going forward.
Shropshire Council will be issuing a press release announcing this decision shortly.