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Issue 316 – Your support needed as more arts cuts hit Frome

ARTS organisations in Frome are calling on local people to offer their support more than ever, as Mendip District Council propose a 100% cut to their arts budget.

In a cabinet report released last week, Mendip District Council outline more than £2 million worth of savings for the next financial year, including the removal of the £56,000 budget for arts organisations.
The revelation follows Somerset County Council’s decision to cut 100% of next year’s £159,000 arts development budget.
Black Swan Arts is one of the arts organisations in the town that will feel the blow acutely, with Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council currently funding around 20% of their budget.
Hilary Gilmore, one of the trustees said, “Really in the short term it’s a big blow, we’re going to have to appeal to our friends to support us and we’re going to have to work much, much harder.”
The centre has been using its funding from Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council to programme exhibitions, concentrating on high quality exhibitions without the emphasis on displaying art that will sell and provide an income for the gallery. As a result, the gallery identifies that their programme of exhibitions will be the first aspect to be affected.
However, Black Swan Arts remain positive that they will do their best to counter the funding blow. “It’s our 25th anniversary next year, and we already had quite an exciting programme planned,” Hilary said. “We’re just trying to look harder and harder at where we can cut costs and call in favours, and it’s going to mean more work. We do as much as we can to diversify our income, which comes from a variety of sources.”
The Merlin Theatre is another organisation that will feel the cuts. Claudia Berry, director of the Merlin Theatre said, “It’s [the Mendip District Council cuts] not as much as the Somerset County Council cuts but obviously any funding cut will affect us, every penny helps. It will impact on what we’re able to offer and programme.
“We were expecting it, but obviously there had been a little glimmer of hope there. That’s almost half of our funding gone between Somerset and Mendip, it’s huge. We have to look at the organisation and how we run. We’re going to be very reliant on local support and fundraising, and that includes all levels of fundraising right up to big projects, to holding jumble sales and just hoping Frome will support the programme.”
Mendip District Council’s cabinet will consider and debate its proposed arts cuts on Wednesday 15th December and depending on when the government confirms its grant to Mendip, an updated report may be presented to cabinet in the New Year.

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