Westminster Labour Councillors have welcomed the Council’s new draft Culture Strategy – and called on Westminster City Council to now create a dedicated Arts & Culture budget to help deliver it.
In 2005, Westminster City Council’s arts budget was £600,000. In 2013-2015 the Council slashed its entire £350,000 arts budget to zero.
The Council has recently announced its draft Culture Strategy 2020 – 2024 – but it has not announced any new dedicated culture budget to help achieve its objectives.
Councillor Andrea Mann, Shadow Cabinet Member for Arts, Culture & Leisure, said:
“Ever since becoming a Councillor in May 2018, I have been asking Westminster City Council to put arts and culture – and the vital issue of access to it – higher on their agenda. Our part of London is a world-leader when it comes to cultural offerings – but much of it remains inaccessible to many of our residents, whether that’s for economic, social or other reasons.
I therefore welcome the Council’s new draft Culture Strategy and its pledge to increase access to culture for all. A dedicated culture strategy now calls for a dedicated budget – so I call on the Council to re-establish a dedicated arts funding budget in Westminster.
Asking Westminster Council to create a dedicated budget for arts and culture isn’t just a request from me and my Labour colleagues. It is also one of the recommendations of the Council’s own cross-party task group on Access to Culture, which recently reported its findings.”
In addition, Councillor Mann has also asked the new Council Leader, Rachael Robathan, to reintroduce the areas of culture & leisure to a Cabinet Member’s title – as following the recent announcement of her new Cabinet, there is no longer any reference to arts and culture, or sports and leisure, in any Cabinet Members’ title.”
Councillor Mann said:
“Removing ‘culture’ and ‘leisure’ from a Cabinet Member’s title sadly feels like lessening the emphasis on them – despite the huge, proven impact that culture, arts, sport and leisure have on residents’ lives, health and wellbeing, and the important role they play in connecting our communities and helping them to thrive.
Along with reinstating a dedicated culture budget, reinstating these words are one way in which the Council could show that it recognises the importance of arts and leisure in our residents’ lives.”