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<nettime> [un]Guardian on 100% Newcastle's arts-funding cuts
nettime's_roving_reporter on Sun, 25 Nov 2012 15:15:35 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> [un]Guardian on 100% Newcastle's arts-funding cuts

(via Twitter[RB], posted to the Ning group http://artsfunding.ning.com/ )


Lee Hall: Guardian article about the 100% cut in Arts funding in Newcastle

     * Posted by Samuel West on November 24, 2012 at 10:58

   Lee Hall has written a piece for the Guardian about the Newcastle cuts.
   The Arts pages reportedly found it too technical, so he asked me to
   post it here.


   Like most people connected with the Arts I was stunned by Newcastle
   Council's announcement this week to cut the entire Arts budget for the
   City ([GBP]1.6m). It seemed a completely unnecessary draconian gesture but
   in the context of the [GBP]90m deficit trumpeted by the Council one wonders
   if it's inevitable, no matter how strong the cultural argument against
   it. However,  when I looked at the report I saw a very different
   picture. The same document which outlines the total removal of arts
   funding boasts a [GBP]418m capital programme in the City - for the next
   three years alone - [GBP]79m of which comes directly from council
   resources.  Much of this money will be spent to regenerate run down
   commercial areas of the city in the hope of encouraging new businesses,
   ironically, in the retail and 'leisure' sector. Apparently the Council
   find it perfectly fine to use council money to pay the admin staff of
   developers, builders, retailers in the commercial sector but not the
   admin staff, cleaners, accountants and caretakers of already thriving
   cultural businesses in the public sector.  There's even an astonishing
   [GBP]1.2m ear-marked for "capital funding to enable council buildings to be
   incentivized to bid for asset transfer opportunities." i.e. doing them
   up to flog them to the private sector. Even the overall deficit starts
   to look problematic when you examine the detail. The actual fall in
   revenue from central government is [GBP]39m but the figures pump this up to
   the [GBP]90m by estimating [GBP]21.7m for inflation and nearly another 
   [GBP]30m for some other vague intangibles. The "cost of the downturn" 
   is reckoned to be more than the entire arts budget for the whole three 
   years. I smell sophistry.

   The Council's defence will inevitably be that there is a difference in
   Revenue and Capital spend but as anybody knows most of any Capital
   spend goes on wages. Indeed the report boasts about the fact that this
   capital spend will help jobs in the construction industry yet at the
   very same time outlines the plans to lay off librarians and ordinary
   admin staff who work in theatres and museums.  Quite clearly there is
   money to continue funding the libraries, museums and the Arts.  Live
   Theatre's grant of [GBP]89,000 per year is 0.06% of this discretionary
   capital spend for the same period. The entire Arts budget is 0.38 %
   percent of this capital spend and only 0.7% of the general council
   budget. It directly supports hundreds of jobs but also brings business
   for restaurants, bars and hotels in the City. Yet the Council is happy
   to wage a nuclear attack and wipe out all Arts funding, not even trying
   to strategically protect a single institution.

   This is a straightforward attack on the Arts buried underneath a load
   of smoke and mirrors about austerity. They can't have it both ways. It
   is simply fiscally dishonest and illiterate not to count the economic
   value of the cultural businesses in Newcastle. Whenever I have a
   sell-out show the restaurants around the theatre are also full.  You
   would think a vibrant cultural life is vitally important to attract the
   high fliers the council are trying to attract to the area, let alone to
   provide succour to the tax payers of the City. These plans outline the
   transfer of an enormous amount of public money to the private sector.
   This is not the simple fiscal crisis the Council are claiming it to be.
   Something is wrong. Look at the figures. It just does not add up.


   Charlotte Higgins article about the Newcastle
   cuts: http://bit.ly/WJgs7W

   Lee Hall letter about proposed Newcastle library
   closures: http://bit.ly/XMRENO

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