News: artsdepot under threat

Monday 10 January 2011

In December Barnet Council announced that it would be withdrawing all funding to artsdepot – the only professional arts venue in its borough which presents a packed programme of theatre, children’s shows, comedy, dance, visual arts and music for the local community, as well as a diverse range of courses, classes and education and outreach programmes. It has come as a shock to the venue’s management team, who had believed they had a good working relationship with the council and now find themselves given so little notice of the decision, which takes effect from April. Consequently it will be hard to plan for the shortfall of around £194,000 – which is about 11% of their total turn over.

The director of artsdepot, Nigel Cutting said: I am shocked and disappointed at this proposal as I have been in constant dialogue with Barnet Council for the last six months, and at no time had it been suggested to us that funding would be withdrawn in 2011. Whilst we recognise that in times of reduced public expenditure, arts provision will need to take a share of the cuts, this is hugely disproportionate and short-sighted, especially with artsdepot being only 6 years old, and being a council initiative. If it goes through, Barnet will be one of the largest councils in the country to spend nothing on the arts. A local authority area with twice the population of Oxford at least deserves a degree of arts provision. We are all aware that central government is reducing what it spends on the arts, but isn’t cutting it altogether. Neither should Barnet Council.’

3,500 people have signed a petition calling on the council to reconsider their decision and today a silent vigil in support of artsdepot is being held outside the council’s offices at 4.30pm.

The Mayor of London has expressed support for artsdepot – and Stephen Merchant, actor and co-creator of The Office and Extras, with Ricky Gervais has also spoken out in support of the venue where he has often appeared. “If we continue to let places like the artsdepot disappear, we’re going to wake up one day and find our greatest artistic achievement is a dancing dog on Britain’s Got Talent” he told the Evening Standard, 10 Jan 2011

The artsdepot dance programme for the next few months includes the London premiere of The Talent- a co-production with The Balletboyz – on Thursday 10 February and Flamenco Express on Saturday 5 March

Find out more about how you can support artsdepot

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