Westminster City Council has been accused of doing nothing to support local arts despite large public subsidies going to support Westminster-based national arts organisations. The report on the Arts Council from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee slams Westminster Council for contributing very little to the arts locally and argues that the Arts Council needs to get tougher with the local authority.
Westminster City Council, which axed their entire £350,000 arts budget this year, is seen as the centre of culture in London with many public subsidised theatres and galleries. The cuts which represented a very small part of the Council’s annual budget have been criticised by many, with Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harmen commenting that the report condemned the Council’s “shameful decision to axe its arts budget, leaving everyone else to pick up the tab.” She addeed that it was “time for Westminster Council to stop free loading and back up the arts like other London councils do.”
A number of other MP’s stepped into the debate to condemn Westminster with Labour MP Ben Bradshaw saying that there was a gross imbalance of funding between certain areas of London and areas outside the city, and Westminster needed to contribute more.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Opposition at Westminster City Council, said;
“It is a disgrace that Westminster City Council contributes nothing to local arts, whilst Westminster’s national organisations are receiving so much in subsidies. The cuts to local arts funding have affected many projects in the area including theatre workshops, community art classes and drama clubs. The Labour Group agrees with the Select Committee report and would very much welcome a more robust response from the Arts Council, to shame Westminster City Council into stepping up and contributing towards local arts funding in the borough”