This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.
We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to reject proposals to cut the entire £350,000 a year budget for Arts and Culture over the next two years. More details
Petition update from the council, 17 May 2013Petition Response from David Ruse, Tri-borough Director of Libraries and Archives
Date sent: 17th May 2013
Dear Cllr Dimoldenberg
Your petition asking the Council to 'reject proposals to cut the entire £350,000 a year budget for Arts and Culture over the next two years' has now closed for the collection of signatures. The petition received 901 signatures.
As the relevant Chief Officer, I have carefully considered the petition and set out the Council’s response below.
The Council has introduced many large scale innovations to reduce costs, including our Tri-borough programme. However, a combination of factors, including how the government calculates the funding of local authorities, and unavoidable demand-led pressures, has meant the Council has had to take some difficult decisions to reduce expenditure in non-statutory areas.
In preparing budget proposals all areas of Council expenditure and income have been closely scrutinized by Cabinet Members, and through the Scrutiny Committee process. The decision to end the arts commissioning and initiatives budgets was not taken lightly and has been deliberately phased over a two year period to give existing funded organisations time to adjust.
In 2013/14 we have awarded contracts valued at £192,500 to fund arts and cultural activities for older people, disability groups and vulnerable adults.
We have taken steps to mitigate the impact of phasing out the commissioning budget:
• By April 2014 we will have given existing groups 12 months notice and support to secure alternative funding.
• Our Arts officers will continue to offer advice and information to Arts organisations on alternative funding sources, including encouraging use of Ward budgets for programmes of arts activity.
• The Arts officers will also help organisations to link up with potential partners, particularly brokering links with key council commissioners for elderly, disability and vulnerable adults.
The City Council does value the contribution made by community arts projects and activities to the quality of life of residents and in an ideal world we would continue to commission such work. However the Council’s role as a funding body cannot be sustained in this financial climate.
Accordingly, I regret to inform you that this Petition has been denied.
More details from petition creator
The current programme is designed to give the most vulnerable residents of Westminster – the young, those with disabilities and the elderly – an opportunity to improve their lives through the arts and through culture. The whole city will be poorer through the loss of these innovative projects.
The cut of £350,000 represents 0.0004% of the Council’s spending. It is madness for the Council to reduce community access to Westminster’s wonderful array of world-class arts and culture. If anything, we should be making more of these magnificent cultural facilities and arts organisations on our doorstep, rather than reducing access to them for children, young people and the elderly.