In effort to reel in budgets that it says have been “hit hard by inflation and a rising demand in services,” the Suffolk County Council in eastern England has announced its intention to completely halt funding arts culture programs.
The county council says cutting its core funding from the sector—which includes local institutions like the Long Shop Museum in Leiston, Thomas Gainsborough’s house in Sudbury, and the Food Museum in Stowmarket—could save the governing body £64.7 million over two years, according to the Art Newspaper.
Fraser Hale, director of the Long Shop Museum told the Art Newspaper that money from the council “accounted for around 10% of our income each season.” A majority of the funds went to insurance costs and subsidizing school visits to the museum. “Like others in our position, we’ll need to find that money, or equivalent savings, elsewhere after this year,” he said.
To ease the transition, £528,000 of Covid “recovery money” has been granted to the cultural sector for the 2024–25 period, which, according to the council, will cover its usual yearly contribution.
Museums are not the only institutions who are dealing with increased austerity measures and faltering budgets. Regional theaters across the country are threatened by a lack of funding. Organizations like the Camden Arts Centre and the Serpentine Galleries are also feeling the effects of a tightening belt.
A group of Parliament members from both the Labor and Conservative parties have called the Arts Council’s choice to slash funding a “calamitous” decision that “will damage London’s world-leading culture sector, which in turn will harm the wider economy and the UK’s invaluable soft power.”