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Funding is scrapped at Wolverhampton's Newhampton Arts Centre

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A well-known arts centre is having its funding axed, it can be revealed today, as cuts to the budgets of two other historic venues were confirmed.

Annual funding to Newhampton Arts Centre is being axed by cash-strapped Wolverhampton City Council for the 2015/16 financial year.

There will also be a cut in funding to the Light House Media Centre and the Grand Theatre.

Wolverhampton City Council is having to find £123 million of savings over the next five years, as government cuts hit hard.

It is the latest in a long line of cuts which will see 2,000 employees at the council lose their jobs, while the working week has been reduced to 35 hours for council workers.

A number of outdoor events have also suffered from the cuts, including open-air concert Wolvestock, which was cancelled last month.

Council tax is also set to rise by just under two per cent.

But Newhampton Arts Centre will feel the full force of the cuts as it will have its £25,000 funding taken away as of next year, while Light House Media Centre has had £33,000 of funding taken away from its budget.

Councillors agreed the funding cuts at a behind-closed-doors meeting. For the forthcoming financial year, Newhampton Arts Centre, in Dunkley Street, will have £25,000 to go towards the cost of running the centre, which holds a wide range of classes and activities, as well as concerts and club nights.

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But from April next year, that funding will be lost. Christine McGowan, centre manager at Newhampton, said: "It has been an annual thing ever since the arts centre opened.

"It contributed towards the running costs but it has diminished ever since then.

"We were originally given £40,000 but due to financial constraints that has been getting less each year. This year we are getting £25,000 but as of next year that is stopping altogether. I have been meeting with the board and we have a funding strategy to raise the money.

"It is making life very challenging for us but we have a strategy and we hope we can involve site users and the local community to make sure we find the money which goes towards the running costs."

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Kelly Jeffs, chief executive at Light House, said: "We have lost for this financial year £33,000, which is around 50 per cent of our funding.

"We have a business plan in place that will help shock absorb the cut in grants, which will hopefully strengthen us." She said there was no risk to the future of the centre.

Councillors agreed the new funding during a number of exempt items at the Cabinet (resources) Panel meeting this week. It was announced earlier this year that funding would be cut from the Grand Theatre and Light House Media Centre and those cuts were approved.

Councillor Elias Mattu, cabinet member for leisure and communities, said: "This is funding that we have been giving to the venues every year and we will still continue to support the venues, because culture has got to be strong in the city. We know that we are struggling financially due to government cuts. It has taken me eight months to come up with this plan and, the same as all the facilities under my remit, I will fight to defend them."

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