Saturday, March 31, 2007

Terrible news

The Arts Council has announced that Grants for the Arts is to be cut by 35% with immediate effect. This is truly terrifying for us as a company. This is the programme from which we have received the bulk of our money over the 12 years of our existence.

I wrote an immediate letter to our MP - Joan Ryan (who is also a Minister of State at the Home Office). Here's the text of it:

"Dear Joan,

Many thanks for the letter you sent recently congratulating Border Crossings on our A4E funding. This funding has allowed us to move the Laboratory programme forward in very positive ways.

However, the Laboratory is of value in so far as it feeds the main work of the company, which is in the field of intercultural theatre production. Over the last few years, we have created major pieces of work in collaboration with artists from key regions across the world; notably China, India, Aboriginal Australia and Eastern Europe. We are now regarded as a leading force in intercultural theatre on a global basis. Only last week, I was in Hong Kong at the invitation of the British Council, developing new partnerships with Asian arts organisations.

The work we have done over the last twelve years has been funded from a number of sources, but a key funder has constantly been Arts Council England, through the Grants for the Arts Programme. I was therefore devastated to hear the announcement that this programme is to be cut by a massive 35% with immediate effect. This is a direct result of the DCMS re-allocating Lottery funds to the 2012 Olympics. It is somewhat ironic that one of the reasons London was awarded the Olympics was the significant cultural element in the bid.

This cut will have a catastrophic effect on the cultural industries, and will be particularly drastic for small to medium scale organisations like Border Crossings, which do not have core funding, but are dependent on project grants. Given that these are also the organisations which are generating the most dynamic and inspiring creative work, there is an urgent need to review this cut.

I would ask you to make an immediate overture to Tessa Jowell and to David Lammy, and to table a motion in the House censuring this decision.

I hope to hear from your shortly.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Walling
Artistic DirectorBorder Crossings
http://www.bordercrossings.org.uk/"

If you're reading this, please write something similar to your own MP. You can go to www.writetothem.com and follow the links.

There's also a dedicated blog at http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theatre/2007/03/this_arts_council_cut_will_dev.html
though I doubt the power of the blogosphere to do much about this. The only real way forward is to make noise at the centre of political power. Let them know there are votes in this.

2 comments:

neil said...

If ever there was a reason for kicking the teeth in of the mouth that bites the hand that feeds the mouth, just to make the absence of teeth work a little more to hinder the articulation of the mouth that bites the hand, well the Olympic games is a good enough reason as any one supposes.

arts said...

Hi Michael,
I@ve posted a link to your blog on the news page of the arts debate site.
http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/artsdebate/2007/04/bloggers_make_a_stand_for_the.php#more

We need you and your friends and colleagues to speak up in your support for the arts more than ever in the light of the funding cuts. Make sure you have your say on the arts debate website.

Thanks, Jo Saucek (Online Editor, arts debate)