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Council poised to cut Leeds arts funding by £500,000

The Leeds West Indian Carnival at Chapeltown, Leeds..Verona Brown from Leeds pictured at the Carnival..26th August 2013.Picture by Simon Hulme

The Leeds West Indian Carnival at Chapeltown, Leeds..Verona Brown from Leeds pictured at the Carnival..26th August 2013.Picture by Simon Hulme

Leeds’s local arts funding budget is to be slashed by 15 per cent - but bosses hope it won’t stop the city’s creative ambition and vision.

The city council currently has an arts and cultural events funding pot of around £3m per year, which is distributed to scores of organisations and events. Funding is decided on a three-yearly basis.

And with a new round of funding about to start, cash-strapped council bosses have revealed the overall annual pot will be cut by 10 per cent in 2015/16, with a further five per cent reduction in 2016/17. The total local council funding available to the city’s arts and cultural scene will be £2.5m by 2017/18.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, the council’s cabinet spokeswoman for culture and leisure, admitted that “the budget difficulties that the authority is having will be reflected in the funding that is available”.

As part of the overhaul, a cap of £750,000 will also be put on individual applications for the first time. However the minimum grant amount will also be doubled from £1,000 to £2,000.

The two biggest recipients of Leeds council arts funding are West Yorkshire Playhouse and Opera North, which currently have a £710,000 annual grant each.

The changes also include institutions like the Leeds West Indian Carnival and Irish Festival - which have effectively been protected until now - being brought into line with other groups.

The changes come as the city prepares to launch a bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

A report just approved by the council’s decision making executive board says Leeds has “a remarkable artistic heart”. It acknowledges that “certainty on income” is vital, adding that the “continuing strength of our cultural organisations would be a vital component of any bid” for European Capital of Culture.

The application process for grants for 2015-18 starts in August.

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