Several changes to Staffordshire’s arts commitment are being proposed as a consequence of the county council’s focus on providing £300m of care this year.
With the authority balancing less income with the need to spend more than ever before on looking after the elderly, people with disabilities and children needing care, it’s being proposed that funding for the arts offer is reduced.
Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Communities and the Environment, said:
The commitment to spend more than ever before on services that we must provide to those in need of help means we have to make very difficult decisions elsewhere.
What we can do is help groups pursue other forms of funding, so they’re not reliant on the council in future years.”
Under new proposals to be presented to February’s cabinet:
- a county council officer will help arts groups access grants;
- money will remain for the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle, which in turn allows it to apply for more than £1 million in Arts Council funding;
- The Multi-Sensory Environment space will be moved to a dedicated room at Stafford Library.
The proposals will also see the gallery at Shire Hall closed and £30,000 worth of grant schemes stopped.
Also being presented to the same cabinet meeting on February 15th are proposals for the future of Shire Hall, if the current uses do come to an end.
The main recommendations are that work continues to develop a long term use for the Grade II* listed building and that it be kept safe until that time.
Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for Finance and Corporate Matters, said:
Shire Hall is a complex building and its listed status means we must work carefully to find the right balance to ensure it is busy, successful and able to sustain its own future.
The building has had several uses over the years, since it ceased to be a court house, and we are committed to working with public and private sector partners to explore different opportunities and whatever is considered will be as part of our commitment to work with Stafford Borough Council on the wider regeneration of the county town.”