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Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Friday, 16 July 2010 14:44 UK

Hopes for Latitude over arts cuts

Debrah McGurran, Political Editor, BBC East
By Deborah McGurran
Political Editor
BBC East

Chairman of the Culture Select Committee, John Whittingdale MP, speaks to Etholle George about the future of the arts

Suffolk's Latitude festival shares the fears of arts projects in the east braced for government cuts in the autumn.

Despite its commercial success, many of the arts companies performing at Henham Park are backed by subsidies.

Arts organisations across the east have already suffered cutbacks in funding this year.

The cuts to the 36 organisations funded by the Arts Council here have been limited to 0.5% so far.

Latitude Festival

It means £57,440 has been taken from the region's budgets for 2010/11.

The question for the future is just how far those cuts might go.

It is expected that at least 30% will be taken from the arts budget in the spending review but there are growing fears that the cuts could be even deeper - virtually severing the link between government funding and the arts.

The government wants to shift more funding back to the Lottery and has signalled that it would like to move towards the American model, where rich philanthropists foot many of the bills for the arts.

It has emerged that some of the country's leading philanthropists are writing to the Prime Minister warning that such an ambition here is overly optimistic.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport says: "The Government is wholly committed to strong future for the arts.

"A mixed economy, with public and private investment, lottery funding and successful commercial activities will best protect the sector in these tough economic times and in the long term.

"We are restoring the national lottery to its original good causes, which will boost the share going to the arts by around £50 million a year by 2012.

"We do not yet know what cuts we will have to make to our budget in the autumn spending review but putting the economy back on its feet and restoring the nation's finances are in the interests of all our sectors, particularly the arts and culture sectors which receive significant amounts of private finance."

The government has now contacted major arts bodies to see how they would manage cuts of up to 30% in state funding.

Around a quarter of arts bodies in the the east could be affected.

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SEE ALSO
Performing arts budget to be cut
26 Feb 10 |  Northamptonshire
Council makes cuts to save 1.6m
19 Jan 10 |  Cambridgeshire

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