Independents Under Threat!

IndependentsColour-200.jpgI now think there is a real danger that there may be ZERO funding for the Biennial Independents in 2008.

With the local elections on May 3rd now is the time to lobby councillors, MPs, the Arts Council and anyone else who may be interested. (More details below)

The Independents have never received funding from Liverpool Council and they already have a £20+million shortfall in the budget for next year. Now the Arts Council NW who entirely funded the 2006 Independents may be getting cold feet about resourcing any more as Grants for the Arts has been reduced by 35% as Lottery money gets rerouted to the London Olympics.

The Story So Far (briefly) Quoted from the CFO’s document..
Several different management models have been used to facilitate the Independents. In 2004 the Afoundation employed an Independents Creative Facilitator (CFO), provided office services, a website and funds for the CFO to disburse to artists. ACE funds were also open to application from artists irrespective of their receipt of Afoundation monies. Although LIB’s curatorial policy excludes Liverpool artists from its International programme, as in previous Biennials they included Independents’ listings and events within their own promotional and marketing initiatives.
In 2005/06 the Independents lost its infrastructure. the Afoundation made a free unserviced office available to the Independents for nine months. All other resources were re-directed to the foundation’s project at Greenland Street.
In the same period LIB determined not to include the Independents in its promotional programmes as previous inclusion had attracted public criticism
of LIB for inaccurate information supplied to it by the Independents.
Mid-2006 ACE made £52.5K available to a new CFO to promote and support the 2006 programme and explore options for the Independents future infrastructure. As previously, ACE funds remained open to application from individual artists and artist-groups. Liverpool City has never financially resourced the Independents.

Grants For The Arts Cut – Quoting Peter Hewitt, Chief Exec of Arts Council England…
“Grants for the Arts budget will reduce to £54m in 2007/8 from £83m in 2006/7, a reduction of 35%. The Grants for the Arts budget in fact fluctuates every year and was, for example, £57m in 2003/4. Nevertheless the reduction between 2006/7 and 2007/8 is a material one.

We have thought very carefully about how best to manage this smaller budget and, having taken into account a number of views internally and externally, have now decided to do the following:

* Enforce more rigorously our current guidance which puts a ceiling of £200,000 on national activities (touring etc) grants
* Enforce more rigorously our current guidance which puts a ceiling of £100,000 on grants to organisations
(Leeway may be allowed on both the above – but only in a very small number of truly exceptional cases)
* Monitor carefully the proportion of the Grants for the Arts budget that is awarded to Regularly Funded Organisations. ”

What to do?
Naturally the Independents Board will be doing all they can to secure funding. I’m sure it will help if everyone who is at all interested in seeing the Independents continue sends emails and letters to the authorities.
The email addresses of all local councillors are available on the website and MP’s addresses are there too.

Please send emails and letters to your Liverpool Councillor as soon as possible and send copies to Warren Bradley (Council Leader) of course. Also to Mike Storey, Laurence Sidorczuk (Chair culture and observer on FACT’s board) and Beatrice Fraenkel (Biennial and Bluecoat boards). Also lobby the Culture Company people from Jason Harborow down, especially the Artistic team.

Also get onto the Arts Council NW. The 2008 Independents should be the biggest and best ever, that appeared to be the Arts Council intention when they funded the last one but at the moment its looking like that really may have been the last one