A cinema CEO has criticised planned funding cuts to arts venues in Bristol, claiming the city "under-invests" in culture.
Clare Reddington, chief executive of the Watershed cinema, said Bristol City Council "doesn't have a clear cultural strategy."
The venue is one of several cultural organisations which is likely to lose its funding from the council's cultural investment programme in April next year.
Other venues that are set to lose thousands of subsidies include the Old Vic Theatre and Exchange Music Venue.
In a blog, Ms Reddington said: "It is with huge disappointment, that I received the news this week that from April 2024 the city council is proposing that they no longer support Watershed with cultural funding.
She added: "It is obviously hard to question an investment decision that concerns your own organisation without sounding like sour grapes.
"We certainly understand that local authorities are under severe pressure and have to make difficult decisions, but it is also hard to feel confident about the funding process when the city doesn't have a clear cultural strategy, or a head of culture in post."
Bristol City Council's cultural investment programme has had its funding slashed by over 40% over the last five years, from £1,015,960 in 2018 to £635,960 this year.
The Watershed will lose £50,000 a year of council funding in 2024, if the decision goes ahead next week.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “The Mayor’s administration are proud to have protected this discretionary, multi-million-pound fund to support our city’s cultural sector, at an increasingly challenging time for local councils across the country.”
Ms Reddington said the funding cuts will be a "severe blow" and claimed the council has "under-invested in its culture sector for many years."
"Bristol has long been seen by people across the country as a place for independent arts to thrive, but for this to be true we need to ensure we are also supporting the platforms that enable them," she said.
The council is still planning to support other organisations, paying grants to Bristol Pride, Knowle West Media Centre, Spike Island, Tobacco Factory Theatres, the Trinity Centre and more. But the loss to the Watershed was described by the local MP as “desperately sad”.
Responding to the news, Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West and shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, said she would do everything she could to support the Watershed.
Taking to social media she said: “This is desperately sad news. Watershed is an anchor for Bristol’s cultural and social life, bringing people together, showing wonderful films, providing a cultural space of huge importance. I’ll be doing everything I can to support them and what they do.”
A mayor’s office spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “All bids to the Cultural Investment Programme were considered by an independent panel. Their recommendations will come to Cabinet next week.
“The Mayor’s administration are proud to have protected this discretionary, multi-million-pound fund to support our city’s cultural sector, at an increasingly challenging time for local councils across the country.”
Credit: Alex Seabrook/Local Democracy Reporting Service