Bristol City Council reveals proposals to reduce Bristol Old Vic’s funding from £288k to £100k per year

Bristol Old Vic begins work to accommodate a significant reduction in City Council funding, which is likely to compromise its contribution towards the Mayor’s agenda for Bristol.

We applaud Marvin Rees’ vision, articulated in the Mayor’s ‘State of the City’ address on 18th October, to make Bristol a place in which opportunity is shared with all communities, and where social and economic divisions are narrowed. Whilst we will always believe reduced arts funding is a backwards step for this agenda, we recognise that the constraints of Austerity have put enormous pressure on Bristol City Council to make widespread cuts in many vital areas.

We share the Mayor's vision to make opportunities available to all young people, regardless of background or economics. That’s why our Engagement programme reaches every ward of our city, and works in partnership with many of the communities that the Mayor seeks to highlight.

Our City Council funding has, hitherto, allowed us to engage with young people from every postcode in the city, to develop projects within communities who have never considered arts and culture as something for them and to support schools with their arts provision after years of cuts within the education system. Subsidy also allows us to increase the number of young company bursaries, pay for BSL trained youth theatre practitioners, run artist development initiatives that are respected across the industry and keep ticket prices accessible for everyone.

It has also contributed to our growing stability over the last 8 years, the renewal of our programme and the development of our building, all of which have allowed us to create internationally touring productions that support the Mayor’s agenda to build the global brand of Bristol.

We want not only to continue to do these things, but do more.

This will always be our aim and ambition because we belong to this city and it is our duty to provide opportunities for every part of our community.

We expect to receive confirmation of this new funding level on December 4th following a Cabinet Meeting, and we will then need to reconsider our planned-for Engagement work.  The news also threatens our funding partnerships with Arts Council England and other sources, which have contributed so much to Bristol’s extraordinary health and reputation as the most exciting, creative city in Britain.

Bristol’s Cultural Strategy speaks boldly to the potential for ‘innovative approaches to cultural investment’, and we commit to joining this effort with energy and determination.  As Cabinet Lead for Culture, the Mayor is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in this new initiative, and we hope to hear more from him on this in the coming weeks.

BCC's relationship with the arts community in Bristol needs to be about more than just a pay cheque. It has the potential to be a shared belief in the value of culture for our city and an enjoyment of the economic and community benefits that it brings.

We want to be on the same side, working towards a common aspiration.

We also say to our brilliant creative colleagues in Bristol, let’s collaborate even more. Let’s find new ways to share resources and exchange ideas, and to work with the City Council to secure the funding that we need to protect our city's cultural future, and its global reputation as a creative powerhouse.


Emma Stenning
Chief Executive, Bristol Old Vic
Mon 27 Nov, 2017