ACTOR Robson Green has rounded on Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes in a bitter war of words amid proposed arts cuts.
The Waterloo Road star was among a 24-strong list of North East stars – which also included the likes of Sting, Lee Hall and Bryan Ferry – who condemned council plans to cut off all funding to Newcastle’s arts venues in an open letter.
However, in a caustic response to the cream of the region’s talent, Coun Forbes branded the group Geordie ex-pats who have made their fortune portraying the North East, while calling for them to add actions to their words. He put forward the idea of a City Deal for the arts, where taxes paid by local businesses would be kept by the council and redistributed to cultural venues.
An arts endowment fund, the interest from which could be used for grants to spaces like the Theatre Royal, Laing Gallery and Tyneside Cinema, was also suggested by the embattled leader.
Now Robson Green has called for a meeting with the leader, which will allow him to explain just how much he has done for the arts economy.
Robson said: “Nick Forbes called me an ex-pat – how dare he. He doesn’t know what I’ve done or and what Coastal Productions has brought to the local economy.
“An ex-pat? I’ve always lived here, always. He said that we’ve all gone down South and that we need to put actions with our words. I have run a successful company in the North East and employed hundreds of people, but it wasn’t so much that which annoyed me, it was his assumption that people who have broadened their horizons have somehow abandoned the area, which is ridiculous.”
Robson added: “I would love to meet Nick Forbes and will take my tax receipts with me, what the likes of the Live Theatre have enabled me to do and not only that but enabled me to put back into the North East.”
He joined Lee Hall in hitting back at Coun Forbes’s criticism.
The Billy Elliot creator pointed out that he and Sting had funded a music room for a primary school in the city’s West End – ironically, in Coun Forbes’s council ward.
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