The proposal by Newcastle Council, in the northeast of England, to nullify its arts budget is sending tremors across the region.
Newcastle and Gateshead jointly spent £250 million over the past decade creating such international institutions are the Baltic Mills and The Sage. Both buildings are, mercifully, on the Gateshead side of the river Tyne and will not be affected by Newcastle’s nuking of arts.
But our friends in the northeast tell us that morale has shot through the floor. The arts are reckoned to bring in £80 million a year to the region. Newcastle’s proposal makes very little economic sense. Nevertheless, there is every likelihood that it will be carried by the council and that the city will earn itself the distinction of being the first in the land to remove public subsidy from the arts.
Lee Hall, local-born playwright of the uplifting ballet musical Billy Elliott, has blogged a first response here.