VICTORY IN WINDSOR AND MAIDENHEAD! 🎉
RBWM Council has dropped plans to abolish arts funding after opposition from thousands of PCA supporters.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is planning to abolish ALL grant funding for the arts from April 2022.
Last year the Council slashed core support for local organisations including The Old Court and Norden Farm from £233k (£1.54 per person per year) to £120k (79p per person per year).
If their new budget is approved, councillors in the second-most affluent Local Authority in England will invest £0 in the arts, for the first time in living memory.
The impact of the pandemic on arts organisations has already been devastating. They cannot afford to lose further income, and we cannot afford to lose the vital benefits they bring to our community.
We urge Council Leader Andrew Johnson and the RBWM Cabinet to
RBWM’s funding of all cultural services – including public libraries, entertainment venues, museums, galleries and recreation facilities – has collapsed in recent years.
Where previously the Council’s investment was above average, at £134 per person per year, it has fallen significantly below average, to just £41 per person per year in 2020-21.
Elsewhere in Berkshire, the councils of Reading, Bracknell Forest and Slough are all investing more than RBWM. In 2019-20, Reading invested almost twice as much in culture for each and every citizen.
RBWM’s guiding Corporate Plan aims to create ‘thriving communities’ and ‘inspiring places’, to ‘empower and enable individuals’ and to ‘promote health and wellbeing’. Abolishing arts grants will hinder, not help, all of these objectives.
Arts organisations like Norden Farm and The Old Court boost our wellbeing and sense of community. They bring us together and spark our creativity. They enrich our local economy, attracting thousands of people each year from across the borough and beyond.
The Council’s decision to abolish their core funding threatens to make vital programmes unviable, shutting off opportunities to access the arts, and setting back Windsor and Maidenhead’s social and economic recovery from the pandemic.
Everyone who lives and works in the Royal Borough deserves high-quality cultural services that are properly supported by the Council. It’s not too late for Andrew Johnson and the Cabinet to change course. We urge them to do so.
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RBWM Council ran a public consultation which closed on 31 January. The Public Campaign for the Arts issued guidance which was accessed by hundreds of people to make contributions to the consultation.