Westminster Council responds to criticism of proposed cutting of the arts budget
By londononline | Monday, February 18, 2013, 20:45
Westminster Council has proposed cutting funding for arts projects but grants already agreed for arts projects in 2013/14, totalling£192,000 will still be funded. The Council will also give support to all of the current local arts projects to find alternative sources of funding from 2014/15 onwards. The proposed cuts have drawn heavy criticism from Westminster Labour Councillors and supporters of the arts, including well known actors, and theatre director Philip Hedley. Ralf Little, Alistair McGowan, Samantha Bond Abigail Thaw and Pauline McLynn, have signed the petition against the cuts.
Responding to criticism of the proposals, Cllr Melvyn Caplan, Westminster Council's cabinet member for finance and customer services, said:
"In an ideal world we would continue commissioning our community arts projects, but the reality of the financial picture for councils means that tough decisions are unavoidable.
"We are literally choosing between arts projects and keeping a library open, or retaining gangs workers on our estates, or running our meals on wheels service. There is no easy answer for the savings that are required, but we have chosen to protect services that are most vital to the vulnerable in our society.
"Those criticising the proposal need to offer realistic alternatives as to which public services they feel should be reduced in place of arts projects – because the fact is we must save £100m over the next four years and maintaining the status quo is not an option."
A decision on the arts budget has not yet been made by Westminster Councillors.