Arts cuts plans put in spotlight at Newport public meeting
ARTS supporters and workers attended public meetings to find out more about proposed cuts at Newport city council yesterday.
Some 30 people took part in one event at Newport Centre early yesterday afternoon, with another taking place later on in the day.
Senior officers from the authority were on hand to talk to members of the public about possible cuts for the arts in the city.
The proposals include cutting the funding for the Big Splash event, moving to an alternative model for operating the Riverfront and ending spending on arts development.
Newport, in common with all other local authorities in the UK, is facing a shrinking budget as Westminister cuts public spending.
The meetings are part of the public consultation on the budget, looking at four years of savings across the authority worth £25 million.
Freelance video producer Mohamad Miah, 27, said events such as Maindee Festival and Pill Carnival all access arts development funding from the authority.
A casual arts tutor from Bella Bella Dance Studios on Clarence Place, who didn’t want to be named, came along to speak about the same issue, saying her organisation works closely with the Riverfront and has taken part in the Big Splash, which last year attracted 10,000 people.
“We take part in a lot of community shows, and that’s what the children that come to the dance studio get to be a part of,” she said.
Danielle Rowlands, 37, of Maindee, said: “If you haven’t got a voice you can’t complain when decisions are made.”
There was concern at the lack of elected members at the meeting – with only Stow Hill Cllr Miqdad Al-Nuaimi attending.
Cllr Al-Nuaimi said he thought the format of the meeting was very good, but said he would have liked to have seen more residents.
“Probably people won’t react until they see the measures implemented and they start to affect them,” he said.
But Will Godfrey, chief executive of Newport council, said the design of the meeting gave “people a better opportunity to get under the detail”, saying he felt a presentation at a public meeting would have felt “impersonal”.
“The more informal it is, the more of a chance to have a proper consultation,” he said.
The council had two previous days worth of meetings which attracted 25 people.
The consultation closes on midnight on Friday, January 24.
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