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One of Birmingham's most visited arts organisations has vowed to continue to offer arts for all despite an unprecedented 70% cut in funding from Birmingham City Council.
mac Birmingham is a standalone charity and 28% of its income currently comes from public investment.
The £540,000 received from the Council in 2015/16 was reduced this financial year to £400,000. The proposed cut for 2017/18 will see mac’s funding reduced to just £120,000 – a total reduction of £420,000 over the last two years. In addition, supplementary income mac receives in the form of venue hire from council departments, will also be reduced amounting to a further £100,000 of lost income to mac.
mac is a much-loved community resource which offers free events and activities to local residents. Birmingham residents make up 82% of mac’s incredible footfall which this year looks set to reach a record 1.2m. This makes mac the most visited free-admission venue in the region, and 14th most popular regionally, ahead of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Library of Birmingham.(Source: Visit England)
mac is the key provider of creative courses in Birmingham, offering over 1,300 courses yearly and is vital resource as many other adult education services are closing in response to their own funding cuts. The funding mac receives is vital in trying to keep prices for ticketed activity as low an possible, making them affordable to as many people as possible. mac is also committed to offering free exhibitions throughout the year alongside unpaid creative activities for many including local families.
Commenting on the decision, Deborah Kermode, CEO and Artistic Director at mac birmingham said: ‘We appreciate the difficulties the City Council face. As an organisation of real importance to our community we aim to stay true to our ethos - to provide arts for all. However, a cut of this magnitude will be felt and as a result we will need to review our current services and partnerships moving forward. Our long-standing relationship with the council, created at our inception in the 60s will continue. We have been assured of their continued support and welcome the opportunity to discuss our plans moving forward.’
Clayton Shaw, Associate Director – Operations, at South Asian arts organisation Sampad added: : ‘We work closely and strategically with mac birmingham, where we are based and we are unsettled by the level of the reduction to their funding despite receiving a 17% cut ourselves. We appreciate the scale of the financial challenges faced by Birmingham City Council and will continue to work constructively with them, and our colleagues within mac birmingham and Culture Central during this exceptionally tough time.”