THE arts sector in Newcastle is expected to be granted a reprieve after shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the council will not axe 100% of its budget.
The city council’s draft budget proposed a total funding cut to all of its arts organisations, including Live Theatre, Northern Stage and the Theatre Royal.
But last night Ms Harman, who is also deputy Labour leader, said the arts budget would remain in some form.
After speaking to the leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, she said: “The reality is there is not going to be a 100% cut to the arts in Newcastle.
“Across the board, whether it comes to capital funding or revenue funding they will be supporting the arts.”
She added: “I can’t give you the nitty-gritty: it’s a bleaker picture than it has been – that’s inevitable because of what the Government’s doing. But they will not be cutting 100%.”
By the end of this week council bosses are expected to have finalised their spending plans, and the budget papers will be published on Friday afternoon.
And Mr Forbes told The Journal that he hoped to be able to deliver some positive news.
He said: “We are in the final discussions with the Arts Council and hopefully we will be able to make a positive announcement when the budget is finalised later this week.”
Last week The Journal reported that a “positive” meeting had taken place between North East Arts Council bosses and Mr Forbes.
Arts Council regional director Alison Clark-Jenkins and chairman Joe Docherty predicted there could still be room for the arts in the council’s budget.
“The meeting was really positive,” said Ms Clark-Jenkins. “The consultation process hasn’t finished but I left the meeting with an invitation to work with Tony (Durcan, director of culture, libraries and lifelong learning) and his team to look at the kind of funding that is available.
“That would be some clever use of some existing money but it could include some revenue, so when councillors come to make their final decisions they’ll have on the table a plan for continuing to fund arts and culture but at a lower rate.”