Man behind Big Brother is impressed by funding of city arts organisations
THE head of the national body which gives Government cash to arts groups has issued a rallying cry to Derby City Council to realise the importance of culture when it sets its budget.
Chairman of Arts Council England Sir Peter Bazelgette visited the launch of the city's Format International Photography Festival with the organisation's regional director, Peter Knott, yesterday.
And Mr Knott told how the organisation had been impressed by the work of Derby Theatre's new artistic director, Sarah Brigham, and its work with The University of Derby.
But he could not say whether the Arts Council was likely to provide more funding for the venue after its current £923,000 grant to provide support until 2015 runs out.
Sir Peter, who was behind TV shows including Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal, said Derby City Council should realise the importance of the arts when it set future budgets.
The council has already set its spending for the next two financial years aimed at saving millions of pounds in the face of cuts to its grants from Government, but Derby Live, its entertainment arm, has escaped with a relatively slight 10% cut. It means it will have to save £90,000 by the 2014-15 financial year.
Sir Peter said: "What we are saying to Derby City Council and other councils is let's recognise that arts are an essential part of the quality of life of a city, a way of raising a city's profile both nationally and internationally. We want to be your partner and work with you through these difficult times."
Sir Peter added that the way arts organisations in Derby were funded and organised had impressed him. He added other parts of the country could learn from how well the University of Derby's ownership and running of Derby Theatre was working and that Quad had shown the way forward with its group of 14 sponsors.
City councillor Martin Repton, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said the council now had two years to discuss with arts groups how they can "survive and thrive" ahead of potential further cuts to Government grants.
Asked about future Derby Theatre funding, Mr Knott said that, over the next couple of years, the venue would need to "prove itself, prove that the money (the £923,000) is required and that from that they can produce excellent work".
But he said the economic situation meant he could not make any predictions.