CARDIFF Council is announcing a U-turn on arts cuts today under pressure from a campaign by artists and the public.
The council has reversed cuts to Artes Mundi, Cardiff Singer of the World, and arts grants following a city centre march against the cuts, which was attended by around 500 people.
Peter Bradbury, the council cabinet member for the arts, said: “We have listened to the views of the arts community.
“We can restore some of the arts events and some of the grants are also being restored.”
Cabinet member for Corporate Services and Performance, Cllr Graham Hinchey, said: “As a result of changes since the consultation, our budget gap is £14m less than anticipated, but still a very challenging £32m.
“The better than expected settlement from Welsh Government, extra cash from the council tax base and reducing energy costs, has allowed us to reduce or remove some of the service cuts that were flagged up during the public consultation.
“We also want to reflect what people told us through the Budget consultation, so we have listened to their concerns around the arts.”
Adam Johannes, Secretary of Cardiff people’s assembly, said: “This is a victory for people power, but we reject the entire £700,000 cuts package to the arts, and will continue to campaign strongly for the entire cuts package to be scrapped.”
Protesters at the march on Saturday morning were led by a jazz band and pallbearers who carried a coffin representing the Cardiff arts scene.
The protesters marched from the National Museum to Cardiff central library in a New Orleans style funeral parade.
G39 co-director, Chris Brown.
Chris Brown, co-director of art centre G39, said: “We are making history here today. I have never seen anything like this in Cardiff before.
“I’ve never seen such popular support for the arts. This isn’t just about artists, it’s about everyone who benefit from the arts.
“Whether you are an active participant already going to work shops or the theatre to people experiencing culture in the street like the lightning bolt sculpture by the Admiral building.
“I had no idea it would get this level of support. It shows we are not in the minority. The campaign has even gone international with organisations in western Ireland supporting us.
“I’m so delighted, if nothing else this march will send the message to the council that this is not only an issue for artists.”
Emma Juliet Lawton, an artist from Canton, said: “I chose to live in Cardiff because it is so cultured. It used to be the European city of culture but if these cuts go through, the improvements the city has made will be lost.
“I believe they are making a big mistake especially when they are spending millions on Cardiff central station.
“Wales is such a cultured country and these cuts are a threat to that culture.”
Laura Bradshaw, the head of four community choirs in South Wales, said: “In the long term it will affect the mental health of everyone. People are starting to realise the benefits of the arts.”
Speaking about the cuts last month, Mr Bradbury said: “I have great sympathy for the arts but it’s important for artists to understand that local government finances are stretched to the limit.
“I am not a cultural philistine, I love the culture we have in this city but there is no statutory duty to support the arts.
“I don’t think the city’s reputation for culture is under threat.”
The council is proposing to cut:
- £143,000 from Cardiff Singer of the World, Cardiff contemporary and Artes Mundi
- £430,000 from art venues
- £68,000 from art grants.
Mr Bradbury said: “The cuts will not end Artes Mundi as they have other sources of income that they can use and Cardiff Singer of the World will be able to continue after the cuts.”
The Cardiff Without Culture petition against the cuts has almost reached 6,000 signatures on the 38 degrees website.
To sign the petition, click here.