Birmingham Contemporary Music Group to lose council funding

Twenty-three arts organizations see their budgets cut

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Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) is among 11 Birmingham-based arts organisations who are to lose their entire funding from the city council.

BCMG, whose patron is Sir Simon Rattle, and the other ten organisations have had their funding for 2011 halved and will lose their council subsidies completely in 2012.

Stephen Newbould, artistic director of BCMG, said that the ensemble had been bracing themselves for a cut of 10 per cent: ‘The proposed 100 per cent cut comes as a complete shock. The City Council has been one of the most forward-looking arts supporters in the land; at a stroke it risks becoming one of the most backward-looking.’

The other ten organisations to face 100 per cent funding cuts are Birmingham Jazz, Sound it Out, Craftspace, theatre in education company Big Brum, Women & Theatre, ACE Dance, Tindal Street Press, Stan’s Café theatre company, Fierce performing arts festival and Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, the cabinet member for sport and leisure for Birmingham City Council said he believed these cuts represented the ‘best deal possible to protect the arts in the city’.

'I am passionate about the arts and culture in Birmingham and take no joy in having to cut funding to these groups,' he said.

Composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, artist-in-association with the group, has voiced his concerns about the cuts. 'I can't quite believe that the City knows precisely what it is endangering,' he says, 'nor the extent of the potential effect of this devastating cut both on music in Birmingham itself and, by extension, to the whole fragile eco-system of creative musical life in this country.'

A further 12 of the city’s major cultural groups will see their budgets cut by between 9 and 23 per cent next year as Birmingham city council attempts to reduce their arts spending by £2m.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will lose 10 per cent of its funding, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, almost 20 per cent, and the Birmingham Town and Symphony Halls will see their funding slashed by 23 per cent. Jeffrey Skidmore’s ensemble Ex Cathedra also saw a cut of 14 per cent while the city’s theatres will also be hit hard.

Elizabeth Davis

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