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Gateshead quakes as Newcastle kills off its arts

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.



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  1. Mr. Hall’s post, to which you have a link, is excellent, and something your readers might read carefully. His point that these cuts, based on the economics of it, don’t make sense, should resonate with any astute businessman.

  2. What is Newcastle City Council thinking about?! What a destructive way to put yourself on the map! An ill thought through move such as this will destroy all the good brought to the image of the north east and the people of this region by the establishment of nationally admired and acclaimed venues such as The Sage Gateshead, the Baltic Mills, the Theatre Royal, all of which bring artistically admired and acclaimed productions and exhibitions to this impoverished region. Just as the ill considered ‘axing’ of all peripatetic music teachers in schools throughout the northern area was a disastrous move a number of years ago, so will this move be noted as a monument to stupidity and ignorance!

  3. Naughty Nigel says:

    As we might expect from a lefty-Labour council, these decisions have much more to do with the politics of spite than cost savings. What else would you expect from a council which has spent £millions installing ‘no car lanes’ for the use of white van drivers?

    I live in the North East, and it has long been known that Newcastle City Council is profligate with public money. For example, I knew a previous Lord Mayor of the city, who insisted on spending a reported £40,000 to have two Mayoral lamp posts installed outside his council house for the duration of his period of office. And believe me, he and his wife went on every free jolly going during this time; all paid for out of the public purse.

    (Of course, being a Lefty-Labour councillor he only did this for the benefit of the working classes.)

    For once the government is trying to rein in these excesses, and Newcastle City Council doesn’t like it. They are therefore trying to punish the electorate by imposing cuts that will be most visible, and will hurt the maximum numbers of people. Those with longer memories will remember exactly the same thing happening when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979.

    But there is one thing you can be sure of; councillors expenses and profligacy will not be up for negotiation, and council chambers will remain superheated no matter how cold the northeast wind. And no doubt selected councillors will continue to enjoy yet more all-expenses paid trips to Cuba to see how a true socialist utopia is run.

    One only has to look at the financial mess that New Labour left the country in to understand what this is all about.

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