Arts Derbyshire


Cuts to arts and culture enhance inequalities and remove vital services for Derbyshire citizens

Nine key organisations in Derbyshire will have their funding cut by the County Council, despite widely-known recognition of the value of arts and cultural work to health and wellbeing. The decision around Council spending cuts, which includes cutting the entire arts budget, follows an authority-wide review into grant giving and will result in severe cuts to a wide range of arts activities and the jobs that support them. The affected organisations were notified of the devastating decision on 7th November, 2022.


At least two organisations face probable closure, while others stand to lose essential resources, representing a significant blow to Derbyshire communities and leaving people needing additional support from already pressed statutory services. Those affected include but are not limited to people living with dementia, mental health issues or learning disabilities, children, young people in care, the elderly or isolated, and displaced peoples. Additionally, the role of these organisations in building communities, developing exciting artworks, and supporting a new generation of creative specialists, will be severely curtailed. The cuts will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in Derbyshire, drastically reducing or stopping the organisations’ ability to continue to create and maintain physical and mental health and tackle inequality.


The council have stated in a press release that they are clear on the value of culture and arts, however at a difficult time when these organisations require stability, it will remove all core funding, throwing the sector into chaos and signalling long-term and profound restrictions on their provision of essential services to the county.


Representations from long-standing arts and cultural organisations working within the County, as well as a collective consortium representation, were sent to the authority between September and October 2022, in an attempt to persuade the County Council to reverse this decision, to no avail. Councillors and officers from Derbyshire County Council were also invited to a meeting in order to discuss the real and long-term impact of these cuts. The consortium issued an open invitation to the council, hoping to work together to design funding structures which continue to support high quality local cultural practice whilst meeting council strategic objectives as well as providing the stability that is so desperately needed by the sector and the people of Derbyshire, but they received no response to this request.


Arts Derbyshire, an umbrella organisation that works closely with the organisations affected, commented that:


“These cuts will mean that decades of growth, skills and local knowledge could be lost, and that’s irreplaceable. Derbyshire County Council should rightly be proud of the vibrant culture sector that their funding has helped to develop, and, like many other local authorities nationally, be looking to use it to support wellbeing and the economy. Small amounts of regular funding to cover core costs help sustain a strong, effective sector. Arts Derbyshire’s nationally recognised work in social prescribing – supporting community, health and wellbeing through creativity – is underpinned by our thriving and stable community arts organisations; they need to be valued and supported so that they can continue to be there for the people of Derbyshire for years to come.”


The sector welcomes the alternative funds that are being made available for applications by the Council, and any input into the creative economy as a whole; however, there is concern as to whether these funds will be available in time to prevent the worst effects of the cuts and whether the key arts organisations that hold the sector together will be successful in applying for them. Two organisations have already been turned down for the fund they were signposted to. One organisation was told that the activity they proposed was not sustainable; their organisational stability was previously provided by the regular council grant. The council has outlined a commitment to longer-term interventions to support the culture sector to thrive and grow; however, there is currently no indication what this might look like, how long term it is, and whether it would provide the ongoing stability required for an effective sector that is able to respond to need, creating health and wellbeing and challenging inequalities. The council previously allocated just 0.02% of its budget to this arts organisation core funding, each £1 of which enabled the sector to lever in £23-£27 funding from elsewhere. None of the Council-based funds which are said to be available for applications provide the long-term stability and core costs that the organisations need in order to sustain activity with Derbyshire residents and to be attractive to external or major funders.

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