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Architecture centres dealt arts cut blow

Architecture centres are among a string of cultural bodies reeling from the withdrawal of Arts Council funding this week

UK arts bodies received the outcomes of their respective Arts Council funding applications on Wednesday (30 March) with more than 200 losing their entire grant. For architecture centres, the funding loss comes just four months after they learnt their £1 million a year grant from CABE would cease.

The Architecture Centre Network, which lost all of its Arts Council funding, is already on the hunt for new ‘partnerships’ however chief executive Bridget Sawyers has conceded programme cuts could follow.

Arts Council funding worth £116,530 contributed to the bulk of the Architecture Centre Network’s £180,000 budget - a further £48,230 had come form CABE.

The organisation applied for Arts Council cash up until 2015, however this was refused. The umbrella body for the nationwide centres will now only receive the Arts Council lifeline for the next 12 months - currently its primary source of income.

Sawyers said: ‘We are developing partnerships and collaborations with a range of other organisations such as Civic Voice, including a focus on the localism agenda  - an area of course where the centres have always been active.

‘It would be great to get more on-going support from the sector – including architects, for the centres as well as ourselves, not just direct financial support but also to collaborate in project development, delivering consultation etc.’

Organisations outside the Architecture Centre Network umbrella were also hit include Open City in London, Beam in Yorkshire, MADE in Birmingham and Hackney’s Building Exploratory Centre.

Open City director Victoria Thornton said: ‘There has been a sixty percent reduction [in grants] going to architecture and that appears to be the highest cut for any of the artforms.’

The Architecture Foundation was also dealt a 2.3 per cent blow however Northern Architecture in Newcastle witnessed a 12.5 per cent funding hike.

BECTU general secretary Gerry Morrissey said up to 200 arts organisation jobs could now be at risk.

Comment:

Robert Powell, creative director of Beam, said: We are of course very disappointed at the Arts Council’s decisions and concerned about any implications it might have for the Network and individual architecture centres. We hope that ACE appreciates the importance of our work and the rich relationship between the arts and the built environment, which needs to be nurtured and extended, not curtailed. It is important for the sustainability of the arts that they have strong relationships with other sectors.

‘At Beam, we were not unprepared for this news and have been reviewing our business model for the past year. We are still funded by the Arts Council in 2011-12. We are a resilient company with an experienced team, lots to offer, and a range of exciting plans. We look forward to working with our partners and clients, including the Arts Council. We are not contemplating closure.”

Nicole Crockett, chief executive of The Building Exploratory, said: ‘We are disappointed that Arts Council England has take the decison not to continue funding the Building Exploratory. We are overwhelmed by demand from school and local education authorities who recognise the value of our programmes.

‘Our emphasis on creative learning, alongside our focus on developing a sense of place with some of the most diverse and dissadvantaged communities in the UK, has made us one of the pioneers of the Big Society.

‘Our extensive programme of engagement has consistently delivered real results, propmoting local partnerships between schools, community groups and artists, and helping to nurture a shared appreciation of the local environmnet. The Building Exploratory has created an important model for many other organisations, demonstrating how to effectively engage with children and young people.

‘It is essential that significant progress is made to ensure that local people are involved in shaping sustainable communites in areas, like East London, that are undergoing radical change. We will continue to seek new partnerships and new sources of funding in order to continue developing and extending this important work.’

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