Support the Arts in Somerset

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!  We would like to urge you to continue your support by lobbying your local Councillors – you can find contact details by clicking on the link below and looking at ‘Who is your Councillor?’ The case for the arts goes beyond the pure financial benefit to Somerset and needs to take into account the cultural, social and community benefits the arts bring.  Please emphasise the value of the Arts to your local area and the support that they offer to your own community’s societies, groups and schools. 




This Christmas give Somerset back its Art Funding

As you are probably aware Somerset Country Council have made the decision to cut 100% of next year’s £159,000 arts development budget. Thank you to everyone who has written letters of support and who came out to join us on 1 November to protest against the decision. You will be relieved to hear that it’s not over yet. Somerset’s arts organisations now need to produce a petition signed by at least 5,000 people who live, study or are employed in Somerset , in order to generate a new debate at a full County Council meeting in early 2011. We would be delighted if you could support us by signing our online petition and by forwarding this message to eligible friends, family and colleagues - you have to live, study or be employed in Somerset to be eligible to sign. This petition needs to be signed by 16 December and is open to all ages but Under 18s must get permission from a parent or carer.


There seems to be a great deal of ire with central government etc. Westminster is not responsible for the manner with which Somerset is dealing with the inevitable cuts required of returning the UK to a less fragile financial footing. The present government is equally not responsible for the present mess. If people would focus on reality and seek to have a future instead of harping on about petty and irrelevant grievances we might get somewhere. Things are in a mess and will not be resolved either by the moronic attitude taken currently by Somerset that we should go from black to white or from ideas which are based upon political zeal. The reality is that Frome is a town whose history and artistic flair have for too long been neglected by many. No it's not Bath or Salisbury or Wells or Swindon but it has a historical context albeit a rebellious one and is well situated between the M/A4 and A303. The fact that it is cheaper to live in than Bath has allowed it to attract people with artistic flair as shown by the success of the Frome Festival, the Cheese and Grain, the offerings at the Merlin and Memorial theatres and Catherine Hill and Cheap Street. The failures of our present financial leaders is shown by the problems with what was Somerfield and the main post office. What is required is a more cogent argument based not upon anything more than the need to keep a heart in all towns. Frome's is based upon its arts and cannot as with any institution rely merely on benefactors. The community at large need to acknowledge the work of the few. Somerset should be looking to make percentage cuts from all areas and not wholsesale cuts in a few. Not black and white but rather more grey. We have coallitions at times of crisis, like in WW2. They work because no one faction or political view is taken as the best way. A middle path is not dull and grey nor 'fence sitting' but requires people to listen to one another and compromise, the two things which we are told are important in relationships. We tell children to share and as adults fight tooth and nail to avoid it. Adults should grow up! We need to work together to get Somerset to see sense. Thatcher showed a leaner Britain the way but was too mean and nasty. Blair showed us rewards but failed to put anything aside for lean times and used cronyism as a way forward for individuals. Neither works as we now see. Galvanise the WHOLE community. Take forward the idea of win-win situations, compromise and listening to one another and let's work with Somerset to ensure an artistic future for all and heart in Frome. Let's try and get them to stop looking at 100% cuts but rather more affordable reductions, if required, and as a community work at supporting our heart better; equally people need to recognise that we are not going to return to the land and that anything that brings people and jobs to Frome is a plus, including probably Tesco!

Article from The Guardian - Tues Nov 9th

We can't trust the coalition with culture – as Somerset's looming funding wipeout reveals Ivan Lewis - The Guardian Tuesday 9th November 2010 The prospect of a 100% cut to direct grants to the county's arts organisations shows the dangers of the government's strategy Tomorrow morning Somerset county council will decide whether it will cut 100% of its direct grants to the arts, amounting to roughly half its total cultural spend. This is the earliest example of why the coalition's spin, that cuts to arts organisations' budgets will be limited to 15%, is a cruel deception. The 30% cut to the Arts Council budget means some organisations will lose all their public funding within two years, while others will experience cuts well beyond 15%. Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey have not only failed to fight for a proportionate cut to the arts budget they control at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), but they have also been silent on the swingeing 27% cuts to local authority budgets and the abolition of regional development agencies, both of which mean public funding for the arts is at serious risk of meltdown. By frontloading its own cuts, the DCMS has put arts organisations in the position where they will struggle to find alternative sources of funding or have time to adapt. The extra lottery money promised by the government, an estimated £40m, represents a drop in the ocean compared with the scale of the cuts that now seem inevitable. Alongside these threats, the government's withdrawal of teaching support funding for arts-related degrees represents a devastating blow to the long-term vitality of our creative industries. The situation in Somerset merits scrutiny in the context of the choices other local authorities face in the weeks and months ahead. Arts organisations in Somerset have accepted the need to make cuts. But cutting this budget in one fell swoop is a short-sighted approach from which it will take the sector many years to recover. It also ignores the significant contribution of the arts to economic growth. The National Campaign for the Arts estimates that every £1 of grant given to the arts brings a fifteen-fold return in investment into the county – a £3.75m contribution. The creative industries in Somerset employ more than 8,000 people with an annual turnover greater than £345m. This economic argument would stand, even if the arts development budget wasn't reported to be £159,000 – 0.0004% of the Council's overall expenditure. Cutting this amount from the budget will do little to reduce the council's deficit, in other words, yet it will have a damaging effect on Somerset's cultural enrichment. Nor is this just about Somerset. At a national level, ministers need to be honest about the scale of the cuts that are going to hit arts organisations across the country, and develop a strategy to ensure that we do not destroy an infrastructure that has taken years to build up. Where is their plan for increased philanthropic and private sector support? Maintaining some level of stability in publicly funded arts should have been a key element of a growth strategy that recognised the role of the sector in fuelling the creative industries. The cuts run the danger of destroying the progress of the past decade in opening up art for all, supporting creativity in schools and making a major contribution to the regeneration of our towns and cities. Before the election, Messrs Hunt and Vaizey sought to persuade the arts world that the Conservatives had truly changed by producing a weekly newsletter, demonstrating their support and appreciation of the arts. Perhaps this week's edition should be headlined "Our broken promises". • Ivan Lewis is a Labour MP and shadow culture, media and sport secretary


Art Funding Cuts

You might have read in the local press that Frome Town Council will not fund the Cheese and Grain charity, which runs the Cheese and Grain building, from April 2011.  This means that the charity will not be able to meet the running costs of the building as it does not make enough money to do so.   There is an understanding that Frome Town Council will want to take-over the building with the intention of continuing operations.   We must help the Town Council to understand how valuable the Cheese and Grain is as a music, market and special events venue and a community hall.  We can show our support for the Cheese and Grain by becoming members of the Cheese and Grain. visit website  click on about us and click on becoming a volunteer or member button,  click on membership pack ( red tag line) on the bottom of the page  

10 Things you should know about the Arts in Somerset

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE ARTS IN SOMERSET Somerset County Council are proposing to cut their existing annual arts development budget of £159,000 (just 30 pence per resident) by 100% next year even though this is only 0.0004 of the overall spend of £350,158,841.    1. 100% cuts to the arts have not been risk assessed - the Peter Boyden report that was co-commissioned by County Council states that even a 30% cut would undermine the stability of the sector and result in immediate and significant economic and social impact.    2. Arts development cannot be separated from economic development or the creative industries. Development of the creative industries is a clearly stated aim for both County Council and Central Government.    3. Every £1 of grants given to the arts brings in at least £15 of investment and  earned income into the county – a combined arts turnover in excess of £3.75 million offers a return of 1500%, assisting the economic development of Somerset.    4. Market research, commissioned by ‘Into Somerset’, has shown that the cultural offer in the county is a key factor in businesses deciding to relocate to Somerset.    5. The creative industries in Somerset employ more than 8000 people with an annual turnover in excess of £345 million. This is the fastest growing sector in Somerset, and research demonstrates that a vibrant arts community has a central role in building infrastructure across the creative industries.    6. Annually there are 500,000 attendances at arts events and more than 25,000 people take part in arts and media projects. Research shows that participation in the arts has a high impact on health, confidence and quality of life.    7. Cutting the arts development budget, especially in a rural county, will impact on delivering statutory requirements to more vulnerable members of our society, resulting in widening inequality.    8. A high quality, vibrant arts sector in Somerset depends on the partnership between volunteers and funded professionals who provide advice and support to the sector, and plays a key role in the ‘Big Society’. It also helps to develop the talents, skills and aspirations of young people.    9. Cuts of 26% over four years will allow arts organisations to look for new sources of income and survive. An unprecedented 100% cut across the county in one year will destroy the cultural core of Somerset.

Source: Somerset Art Works

Frome's USP

I wonder if it would be useful when writing/speaking about the proposed cuts to speak collectively of the Creative industry in Frome being the Town's primary USP (unique selling point) both for tourism and regional visiting? If we see the town as a 'business' this terminology is very easy to understand and very difficult to argue against. Any business that stops promoting it's USP will soon be dead in the water. Just a thought. Freya  

Collective lobby

Freya,   You are absolutely right.  Unless we organise and lobby collectively our voices will be much easier to ignore.   The Cheese and Grain has made an Impact Analysis of it's activities in preparation for funding applications to meet the costs of refurbishment of the  foyer and mezzanine space to enable it to accommodate a wider range of community activities.  If each creative organisation, business and individual practioner would make an impact analysis and share this with the lobby group, we could make a powerful arguement backed by facts, rather than assertions.  Please contact the cheese and grain for factsheet.   Gerlinde

Support the Arts in Somerset

Please find a copy of my email to alvin horsfall below Cllr Alvin Horsfall Frome South Tuesday 2 November 2010 Dear Alvin Horsfall, I am writing to you to urge you to vote against the 100% arts budget cuts, including the library budget cuts, in the scheduled full council meeting. As you know in Frome the arts in all their variety make an outstanding contribution to our towns economic, social and cultural diversity. It is the variety of all art forms on offer in Frome which makes such a vibrant and exciting place to live in. As you also know, the creative industries are the ones which continued to grow during the recession and which contribute enormously to Somerset's attractiveness as a tourist destination. It would be a shame, if creative people and organisations were, due to funding cuts, no longer able to contribute to the range of regionaland local festivals and events. Yours sincerely, Gerlinde P.S  in the spirit of mutual support, could I ask you to join the Cheese  & Grain  Trust as member. visit  click on about us, scroll down to becoming a member or volunteer.  Scroll down the page and click on the r4ed tag line at the bottom. thank you so much Gerlinde  

"The craft so long to lerne": Skills and their Place

 "The craft so long to lerne": Skills and their Place in Modern Britain By John Hayes Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning (jointly with the Department for Education) 26 Oct 2010, Royal Society of Arts (Excerpt from the end of the talk)

I look back to the Englishmen who first raised the standard of craft skill as a force in the modern world - to Morris and Ruskin, Rossetti and Burne-Jones – and I think it’s high time to create a new aesthetics of craft, indeed, a new Arts and Crafts movement, for Britain in the 21st century. That won’t be done overnight. But I can announce today that we are making a start. I am considering backing high quality in the craft traditions by lending the Government's support to a new award for excellence in the crafts. Details are at an early stage, but I think it is right that excellence should be rewarded and the Government will work over the next few months with those working to support the crafts, including the various charities under the Patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, to encourage and reward excellence in this area.

Art, said Hippocrates, is long, but life is short. But craft is about new industries too. Its about being as software designer and a network engineer; craft is as much about learning to be a film technician as furniture maker; as much about learning to be a fashion designer as a fishmonger. And what I want to show above all is that our society will benefit greatly when those that make policy understand what popular culture has always known - That skill, craft and dexterity give our lives meaning and value. They are at the heart of our society. Craft should be honoured and those who master it revered. So while we work to encourage the learning of practical skills, we must also work to build demand for and recognition of them. Craft to feed the common good. Skills to serve national interest. Ours will be – must be – the age of the craftsman