I was planning to send you a cheery Christmas update (that comes later) and before I do, I have something serious to ask you to do. As you know, I regularly send you details of the rich arts and cultural work that takes place in and around Norwich, and I know that many of you appreciate and value the arts. Now is the time to say so.
Norfolk County Council has to cut spending and they are proposing cuts of £150,000 to the arts and culture budget (amongst other things) on top of £100,000 that was cut last year. I would like to ask you to fill in the online Consultation which asks if you agree with the proposed cuts to the arts budget and why. The link is below
You have until the 19 December (tomorrow)
to help influence the decision regarding arts cuts, you can do this by by logging on to:
https://norfolk.citizenspace.com/consultation/budgetandservices to give your thoughts on the public consultation, or emailing your comments email@example.com telling the council what the arts in Norfolk means to you. Please voice your objection - it will only take a few minutes.
To help you fill it in and to encourage you, I will explain why I have objected to the proposed cuts - it is, of course, up to you what you say, but this is roughly what I said.
Last year, all of our small and large arts organisations took a cut to their funding and many of them are on minimum levels of funding in the region of 10-15k per year.In other words, small organisation that really feel the effect if they lose any funding at all. Local authority funding is important to them as often they need evidence of match funding to apply for other grants from trusts and foundations.
All arts and cultural organisations have become leaner and more efficient. They are maximising business potential, tickets sales etc. But many are working with children and vulnerable people who don't pay for the experiences and activities they get so it is not a commercial transaction.
These experiences improve people's life chances and quality of life. Activities that stimulate and motivate people saves the county money on wellbeing and healthcare services. Creative activities increase the aspirations and ambitions of young people to pursue careers in the creative industries which is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the country.
Tourists and visitors are also attracted to the region because of all of the cultural activity we have here in the county. A more robust economy in the region improves quality of life for us all.
But the arts and cultural infrastructure in Norwich and around is under threat and in danger of disappearing. So many people work for little or no money but because they believe in what they do (for example, no-one pays for me to send cultural updates to all of you. I do it because I believe it benefits people) and now, there is a danger that venues such as Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich Puppet Theatre, The Garage will disappear along with free activities such as rural touring, the Lord Mayors Celebrations, the free events that are part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and many much less visible work with communities that is so important.
Individual artists are not supported to develop skills to work with children and elderly or vulnerable adults. Schools are not developing creative education as they used to and we believe this is short-sighted as creativity is important to human development.
Of course we don't want other key services to suffer such as social services and rubbish collection, public health etc but we must fight for our corner. The money they will save is a very small proportion of the whole NCC budget so it will have a greater detrimental effect on arts organisations than benefit to the Council.
So, if you value the arts, as I am sure you do, it is time to stand up and be counted. Stand up for the arts in Norfolk and also please write to your county and city councillors to ask them their stance on culture before the general election. Politicians will listen if their votes are being affected. Act now! and fill in the form
Christmas greetings to follow!