Somerset short changed again
Arts Council funding has just been announced for arts organisations around the South West, And once again it is hugely disappointing. Out of a total of £111m awarded, just £3.8m has been awarded to arts organisations in Somerset. That is just 3.4% of the total.
The big winners this year have been the East Quay project in Watchet awarded £744,000. The project run by the Onion co-operative has already attracted multiple grants over the past 4 years. However this is the icing on the cake.
Also celebrating will be the Little Bulb Theatre company, based in Frome. The company which produces touring productions have been awarded £720,000.
Yeovil’s Octagon Theatre which is going through a major renovation will receive £760,000.
The other significant grant is for South West Heritage which runs the Somerset Museum (Taunton) and Rural Life Museum (Glastonbury – pictured) among other things. Their grant amounts to £637.800.
Take Art Limited, the theatre group producing productions to tour rural locations have been awarded £490,131.
Among the smaller awards is a grant for Langport based Somerset Art Works who receive £275,000. While Somerset Film in Bridgwater have been awarded a grant of £267,000
However for context, one award, to Wiltshire Creative, for £3.9m was for more than all the Somerset organisations put together. Overall it is small change once again for our excellent and underfunded arts scene.
Once again Arts Council England have failed to recognise some of the great work carried out in the arts in Somerset, often with little or no other funding. Some of these grants are also disproportionate to need. The Merlin Theatre in Frome, for example, gets nothing, yet badly needs investment to continue as an important touring venue in the town. A few thousand pounds could be the difference between venues surviving or not. As retiring Director of the Frome Festival, I’ve seen this all too familiar story. I shan’t miss this annual lottery.