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60% of councils in the Midlands cut arts institution funding

Watch the full report by ITV News Central reporter Chris Halpin above.

Almost two thirds of councils in the Midlands which fund cultural institutions have reduced the amount they contribute in the last three years, according to an ITV News Central investigation.

The findings follow an ITV News Central request to all the local authorities in the region for information about whether their funding to local arts had reduced.

Out of the 25 councils which funded cultural institutions in their area, 15 confirmed that they had reduced the amount they contributed in the last three years.

60%
Percentage of councils have reduced their funding to cultural institutions
53
Number of cultural institutions which have had their funding cut

60% of council-funded institutions, including museums, heritage centres, theatres and art galleries, had seen their funding drop since April 2013.

Three cultural buildings, The Public, Broadfield House Glass Museum and Walsall Museum, have also closed permanently.

The Public in West Bromwich closed in 2013. Credit: ITV Central

The Public art gallery in West Bromwich closed for good in November 2013 with Sandwell Council citing the £30,000 weekly cost of running the venue as the reason for its closure.

The £70m venue had previously been used as a base by several local groups, including the People’s Orchestra.

The People's Orchestra Sandwell Credit: ITV Central

Founder Sarah Marshall told ITV News Central that being moved to a less high profile venue had initially been hard for the group.

Sandwell Council defended the decision to close the venue, arguing that they had a duty to prioritise maintaining core services for the welfare of local residents.

However, a former worker at The Public has told ITV News Central they believe the move to close the venue was for political reasons, not financial.

Sixty people lost their jobs, and the former worker believes there was no need for West Bromwich to lose an increasingly valued arts building, which had funding pulled just as it was proving to be a success.

From top left, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Rep, CBSO and Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery all seeing council cuts. Credit: ITV Central

Birmingham City Council has also reduced its funding for Arts and Cultural organisations, with the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Rep theatre, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery just some of those affected.

The Deputy Leader of the City Council Ian Ward says there has been no choice but to cut back because of the council's ever shrinking money from the Conservative Government.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said:

"Arts and culture has a hugely positive impact on people's lives and we are absolutely committed to broadening access to the arts across the whole country.

"Our Culture White Paper - the first strategy for the sector in more than 50 years - sets out how we will increase access to arts and culture across the country and ensure they are open to all."

– Government spokesperson

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