Making a crisis out of a drama as arts funding is cut

Ray Spencer of the Customs House, South Shields, which has seen its funding cut.
Ray Spencer of the Customs House, South Shields, which has seen its funding cut.
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THERE were winners and losers in the region in a shake-up of arts funding.

Arts Council England has announced who would receive cash from its 2012-15 portfolio from a drastically reduced pool of funds.

Durham County Council was one of the winners with a cash injection of £635,000 to boost its arts and culture in the future.

Yesterday, the Echo revealed that the National Glass Centre and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland will receive £1.1million over three years.

After a wave of Government cuts, the arts funding body now has to operate with an overall cut to its budget of 29.6 per cent.

Of the 85 North East arts organisations that applied for funding from the Arts Council’s 2012-15 programme, 42 will receive funding of £48million for three years.

It means that 43 of the region’s groups – and 206 nationally – that applied for funding have been turned down.

Under the old system, 69 organisations in the North East were regularly funded.

Durham County Council’s share of the funding will help fund the annual Brass and book festivals and signature events such as the biannual Lumiere as well as other activities aimed at increasing involvement in the arts.

Coun Eunice Huntington, Durham County Council Cabinet member for healthier communities, said: “We are thrilled that our application for funding from the Arts Council has been successful.

“The grant will help us to continue providing some of the major arts events that have proved so popular over recent years as well as giving us the opportunity to develop new events and activities.”

The money will be directed through a new Durham Cultural Partnership, which will operate via an Arts and Festivals Hub based at the Gala Theatre.

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Arts Council regional director, said: “This has been a difficult process, we’ve made some tough choices and there will be significant changes from April 2012. 

“This, combined with other sources of Lottery funding, including grants for the arts, will ensure continued innovation and creativity.”

The Customs House, in South Shields, announced its disappointment that although it will benefit from Arts Council support in the next three years – to the tune of £100,000 – it is at a substantially lower level.

And with further cuts to local authority funding and major national arts projects coming to an end, it means the centre will have to create a strategy to find new funding.

* Are you an arts group that’s lost its Arts Council funding? Contact the newsdesk on 501 7326.