Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Greens say No More Cuts to the Arts

Councillor Chris Coates
After confirmation that the Labour Party will not cancel £83 million of Conservative Party cuts to the national Arts budget made in recent years, local Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Lancaster Chris Coates has called for an end to cuts to the Arts.

Chris Coates is a Lancaster City Councillor for Scotforth West. Until 2013 he served as the area's first Green County Councillor (replaced by the Green's Gina Dowding).

“We have already seen over £50,000 of cuts to Arts organisations in the district," he said, "and further cuts would threaten the existence of some of Lancaster’s Arts organisations.”

The row about national Arts funding broke out after the Labour Party press office tweeted “Tory dossier says Labour will cancel cuts to the arts budget. We won't”. In Lancaster, Arts Council cuts have affected The Dukes, dance company LUDUS, LitFest and Lancaster University’s arts program.

A study published by the Local Government Association in 2013 (PDF link) estimated the arts generates £4 for every £1 spent by a public body in funding. The claim was slightly overblown, as noted here by author Brian Clegg earlier this month, but did illustrate the value of the arts to a local community and the report also highlighted the many ways town halls are using the arts to bring in money to communities as well as achieving other goals such as creating jobs, filling vacant shops and reducing youth offending.

“The Labour Party seemed to be engaged in a bragging contest on who will cut arts budgets," Chris notes. "The Arts make a significant contribution to the economy of the City. There has to be a point where we say enough is enough and support our local arts organisations.”

• You can find out more about Chris on his campaign Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LancasterFleetwoodGreenParty and at http://northlancs.greenparty.org.uk/

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