Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has slashed funding for Anvil Arts – the largest performing arts organisation in Hampshire – by a massive 50%.
The cut, which takes effect from 1 April 2021, reduces the local arts and culture budget by £400,000 in one fell swoop. We all understand the financial pressures on local councils, but at a time when Anvil Arts is already contending with over £1.4 million of lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is too much, too quickly.
We call on the Council to:
Anvil Arts presents more than 400 music, comedy, drama and dance performances each year, drawing audiences from across the local area and beyond. The Anvil, The Forge and The Haymarket are assets to the town and the region.
Anvil Arts’s Community Engagement programme typically involves 35,000 people in schools, care homes and the community, including in the five most deprived wards in the Borough. It is this non-commercial work that will be made unviable by this sudden and devastating cut.
Especially now as we recover from the pandemic, we need arts organisations like Anvil Arts and their programmes in the community. They boost our wellbeing and local pride. They bring us together and activate our creativity. They enliven our High Streets and enrich our local economies.
An independent study has shown that Anvil Arts generates £6 for the local economy for every £1 of public investment.
The council’s decision to slash local funding now is short-sighted and risks undermining the vital role arts and entertainment can play in supporting Basingstoke and its recovery from the pandemic. We urge the council to reconsider.