Arts and Culture Cuts in Westminster – what they say

Bernard Collier, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Westminster;

“Larger arts organisations will absorb these cuts relatively easily – what’s a grant of £30,000 to an organisation with an income of millions?  But for smaller arts groups, working mainly in Westminster, these cuts may mean the loss of ten or twenty per cent of their income.  That kind of cut can have a real impact on an organisation’s long-term future, and will limit their ability to bring new grant-funding into the area.”

Julia Peyton-Jones, Director of The Serpentine Gallery;

“While we never take any funding for granted and understand the financial constraints in the current economic climate, the prospect of any cuts to our funding is extremely worrying.”

Steve Shaw, Director of Paddington Arts;

“We’ve received a lot of support from the city council and the relationship has been very important to us as an organisation. The fact that the funding will be withdrawn will have a serious impact on us. We would support a campaign to urge the council to reconsider cutting the arts budget completely. We think the arts has a very important role in people’s social lives and it’s a vital service for a small amount of money.”

Samuel West, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts;

“This is a cruel, joyless plan. Look at the projects this money funds: work with the young, the elderly and people with disabilities which help them to think creatively and independently, decrease their isolation, increase their confidence, empathy, happiness and health. Don’t people deserve that quality of life?

To pretend that this money would otherwise go to meals-on-wheels or hip replacements is a false dichotomy: all so-called ‘tough decisions’ are nevertheless decisions, and this one, from a flagship Council, smacks of ideology.

But there is something more dangerous in a cut like this: by removing these services from young people in particular, you teach them that art is not for them.

Even to consider cutting off funding like this is, frankly, unpatriotic.  80% of visitors to this country cite the arts as one of their reasons for coming. How Westminster Council, whose patch contains our great West End theatres, could fail to understand where the talent that fills those theatres comes from, is quite baffling. Follow this policy to its logical conclusion and you starve our tourist industry to death. “

Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport;

“This is sad and deeply worrying news from Westminster Council. The cultural institutions in this authority are world renowned and attract visitors from across the world.  If the Council takes this drastic step, it will be a further demonstration of the pressure councils are facing up and down the country from the unfair and disproportionate cuts inflicted by David Cameron”.

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