|The clock is ticking - Cardiff Council's clocktower.|
Pic credit: Mia V
- The Sherman is looking at losing its £161,000 annual grant - the biggest cut.
- Chapter is looking at losing its £13,411 grant from April.
- Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography, is proposed to lose £9,460 just months after staging the first Diffusion Festival. (Theatre jumped out at me more, but my husband's a keen snapper and I've seen some of this work and been bowled over by it. It's really lifted me.)
I hate making this a financial argument, but nevertheless this is complete and utter financial madness. Every £1 invested in theatre sees a £3 return. Now I'm aware that £3 may not immediately find its way into the council's coffers, but some of it will through tax, spending at council-run services. And surely there's a moral responsibility that sits with the council too - that as our representatives, they want to help create a happy society, one where we lead fulfilled lives?
I read a fascinating article in the Guardian the other week following on from the Newport mural-abolition saga (which, for the record, was disgusting and I've yet to meet anyone who isn't furious about it). It's here. Read it. It's brilliant. It argues that the cuts are hitting Wales hard and the arts keep the poor psychologically afloat. Bulldoze the arts, bulldoze our communities yet further, bulldoze mental health. These cuts need to be looked at holistically.
So, what can be done? Well, personally I'm going to write to my councillors, my AM and my MP. Oddly, Cardiff is a Labour-run council and as the cuts are a Tory-agenda and I have a Tory MP the interplay on this one should be interesting. You can also enter your postcode into My Theatre Matters to be kept informed on developments. The whole thing's so depressing. I've been reading Estyn reports recently, thinking about schools, and have noticed from school websites how a lot of help-the-school organisations date back to the 80s. I couldn't work out why and then I realised - Thatcher. We're fighting to keep our communities going again, having to justify what's at the very heart of them. It's a fight we shouldn't need to have again, but we do. The arts are central; they're not elitist and they're not superfluous. Neither do they exist at the expense of something else.