Rhinegold Photo credit: Nancy Horowitz
CBSO music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

CBSO funding from Birmingham City Council falls to 1980s levels

3:33, 15th December 2016

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s funding from Birmingham City Council will be cut by 25% from April 2017, shaving £228,000 off the ensemble’s budget from the current year’s level.

The orchestra says that this means that its public funding will drop below that currently received by any other regional symphony orchestra in the country, and its Birmingham City Council grant will fall to levels last seen in the 1980s.

The overall cut to funding for arts organisations in the city is 34%.

The cut comes on top of the £1.47m real-terms public funding cuts which the CBSO has absorbed since 2010. Despite this, the CBSO has consistently achieved the highest ticket income of any orchestra in the UK, annual fundraised income has increased from £450,000 to around £1.2m, and the ensemble has raised a £2m Endowment fund.

‘We are concerned and disappointed that, in the face of financial pressures, Birmingham City Council has felt it necessary to cut funding for arts and culture so much faster than local authorities in other major cities,’ said CBSO chair Bridget Blow. ‘This latest cut will require us to work harder than ever to maintain the world-class concerts and learning and engagement activities which the people of Birmingham have come to expect.’

The CBSO has been working with other Birmingham-based arts organisations over the last year to establish Culture Central, a development organisation and collective voice for culture in the city-region. Culture Central is now calling for a complete review of the way that the sector and the City Council work together in the future.

‘We have been making it clear for many months now that a radical new proposition for cultural investment in the city needs to be established and we are disappointed that the City Council has not shown more appetite for this innovative approach to date,’ said Gary Topp, director of Culture Central. ‘The many exceptional cultural organisations in the city have extended their own level of commercial and entrepreneurial activity considerably in recent years and we are asking the City Council to reciprocate.

‘In effect we are seeking the full backing of the Council to create the necessary freedoms and flexibilities for the sector to thrive and to move to a more dynamic and contemporary approach. The sector has prepared itself for this approach through the creation of Culture Central as a collaborative leadership vehicle and we need to work in a radically reframed partnership with the Council to bring these opportunities to fruition.’

Anyone wishing to make a donation to support the CBSO’s future can do so by contacting Eve Vines on evines@cbso.co.uk or 0121 616 6500 or by visiting www.cbso.co.uk/support.

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