10 September 2012
The Lost Arts campaign needs your help, writes Maddy Radcliff
Lost Arts is a three-year project set up by eight trades unions whose members will be directly affected by cuts to the arts. The aim is to catalogue and record everything in the arts sector lost as a result of the public-spending cuts.
Already in 2012 we have a sizable list of losses, growing every day as news comes in of another library, another community centre, another writers’ scheme lost to the cuts. A quick search of the Lost Arts list throws up more than 40 losses classified as literature and more than 130 in theatre.
We don’t blame managers or the arts councils who make difficult decisions, even though we do not always agree with them. It’s not their fault funding is going down. We blame government, national and local. And our voice, the voice of all of us affected by arts cuts, should be heard. That voice is diverse, of all ages, backgrounds and sectors within the arts.
Some cuts are high profile, others less so. Take Flambard Press, for example. It’s a small publishing house that focuses on new and Northern writers. For many, working with Flambard was their first publishing experience. And this year, because of the spending cuts, Flambard was forced to close.
This summer we lost the Theatre Writing Partnership. Born of four theatres in the East Midlands, its small team of two committed to reading the first 15 pages of any unsolicited script – providing a rare service that gave writers with essential feedback early in their careers.
Theatres are suffering too. The Duke’s Playhouse in Lancaster lost so much to the cuts that its funding levels now are the same as in 2001. Duke’s five productions a year will go down to three and any others are entirely dependent on project funding. Add job losses to that and you can see the real impact of the cuts on the arts.
These cuts might not always make the news, but Lost Arts is here to say they do matter, and to show why.
Already local campaigns are making their mark and having a real impact. Look at the success of Equity campaigners working with Duke’s Theatre. Together, they found room for an extra production. Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members staged a lunchtime walkout at the National Gallery earlier this year after cuts to assistant posts put art works at risk.
‘Not all cuts are as obvious as those to health or social services, but they still diminish our quality of life,’ says John Medhurst, Policy Officer at PCS. ‘It’s important to bring out less visible cuts to arts and cultural provision and show how they lessen opportunity and erode life chances, especially in communities and sectors that are already suffering disproportionately from unnecessary cuts.’