A press release from Birmingham Artists that’s doing the rounds declares that Birmingham City Council has cut their funding with only one month’s notice to leave their city centre office and studio complex.
It could be argued that Birmingham Artists (BA) doesn’t need such frivolities as money and a permanent location, or that an organisation that’s survived for 21 years, has a membership of 150, runs the only Print Workshop in the region, does outreach and youth training and above all provides a networking node for Birmingham’s vibrant but disparate artistic community, that something like that isn’t really needed. These arguments could be made and in a bizarro parallel universe it might be concluded that BA doesn’t deserve taxpayers money and funding should be sourced from elsewhere, but allowing one month for that to happen is just madness, really.
I’m not saying Birmingham Artists deserve this support, though I suspect they do. I don’t think all arts organisations deserve public money by default. A significant number of them don’t and a lot of arts funding could be much better spent. But to take a well established organisation (how many arts outfits can say they’ve been in existence for over two decades?) and give it one month’s notice…
Words are failing.
There are a number of crimes here. The first is a betrayal of the commitment the city has given to the creative industries in Birmingham. The second is a blindness to the importance of social infrastructure in the city. The third is an ignorance of sustainable investment. You can add your own to this list.
More on this story as it develops.
Here’s the full press release:
Artist Group to be axed by council and given one months’ notice
Birmingham City Council brags that it is committed to investing in the city’s creative industries, yet the 21 year old Birmingham Artists’ group has been given just one month’s notice to quit its city centre office and studio complex.
“This is cultural asset stripping at its most callous. Birmingham Artists have been an important resource for the city for two decades. Its members fly the flag for Birmingham nationally and internationally as well as working with Birmingham communities and schools.
The fact that BA was only given one month’s notice of the funding being cut is disastrous as it does not allow the organisation time to make alternative arrangements. Effectively this will bring an end to the city’s only membership based artists’ group and studio provider.” Said BA board member, Mark Renn, BA has a membership of 150, runs an experimental gallery, supports young aspiring artists and provides crucial information and networking opportunities for Birmingham’s artist community. BA’s studio complex at Lee Bank Business Centre includes the Birmingham Print Workshop, the only artists’ printing workshop in the region. A unique resource, which is enjoyed by people of all ages.
BA has pioneered exhibitions in non-gallery venues, such as the Chuck Works, an old factory in Eastside, the Central Library and commercial shop windows, allowing people from all walks of life to come into contact with the work of the city’s artists.
“This is an incredibly short sighted move by the council, which has been handled very unprofessionally. Given the council’s stated policies regarding the creative industries, it is totally hypocritical.”Mark Renn, BA Board member.