Response to Bristol City Council budget

Posted on Thu 12 Jan 2017
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Dick Penny, Watershed's Managing Director, responds to Bristol City Council's latest budget proposals:

"The Mayor and his Cabinet are having to make very difficult decisions to address budget cuts which are affecting local authorities across the country. Bristol is a vibrant city and we are committed to working with the Mayor to make Bristol both successful and inclusive. The budget proposals published today include a reduction in funding to the cultural sector (alongside many other cuts). The reduction in the arts grants budget does not begin until 2018 and this creates some space for the cultural sector to work with the City Council and other agencies to limit the negative impact and over time to develop alternative sources of funding. The importance of the cultural sector to the future of the city is without question - it is the foundation of headlines like:

'Move along, London! Bristol is leaving its industrial past behind and reinventing itself as England’s new creative hub'

'Bristol stands as a shining example of one of the UK’s most forward-thinking, innovative and dynamic small cities'

Culture is the driver of city image and reputation. But more importantly cultural activity builds social cohesion and well-being, it develops inclusion and creative talent, it attracts visitors and investors, and it underpins the creative industries which is the fastest growing sector in the UK and a vital part of Bristol’s economy.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said earlier this week, 'Cities like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol all owe much of their economic revival to their continuing cultural assets.'

A UWE survey of 30 cultural organisations in Bristol produced a snapshot for the 2015/2016 financial year:
Total Turnover: £55,325,754
Total employment: 1,706
Regular Volunteers 1,654
Artists worked with 9,077
Audiences/participants for all activities: 3,477,283

"These planned funding cuts will put pressure on our ability to deliver on growing demand and we will need to work hard with the City Council and other stakeholders to continue developing new and alternative sources of income. Watershed is committed to working with partners like Fairfield School, South Bristol Youth and Ujima to develop the diversity and inclusivity of Bristol's cultural offer. We have a rich cultural ecology - it is vital that we nurture this for future generations."