Council astonished at rejection of museum grant

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Council astonished at rejection of museum grant

Posted: 14/03/2007 23:49:26

County astonished at City Council decision to turn down museum grant

EXETER City Council's decision to reject a 50,000 Devon County Council grant for the city's Royal Albert Memorial Museum has been greeted with astonishment by the County Council.

Devon County Council has also been left baffled by the City Council's reasons - an incorrect assumption that the money would be taken away from a budget earmarked to develop Exeter Central Library into a cultural centre or to fund the Exeter Phoenix.

The County Council also revealed today that its offers of support for the 2007 Exeter Summer Festival have so far met with a negative response.

A meeting was held on 20 February 2007 between the County Council and the City Council to discuss arts funding in Exeter.

Devon County Council said it would like to sponsor an event at the 2007 Summer Festival and would make available rooms at County Hall (the largest meeting space in the South West) and Exeter Central Library for Festival events. Exeter City Councillor Ian Martin said it would not be possible to use County Hall premises for Festival events, and followed this up with an email the following day saying 'after due consideration, Exeter City Council would not be making any representations to Devon County Council for any funding for the Exeter Summer Festival in 2007'.

The 50,000 offered for the Museum's Redevelopment Appeal - five per cent of the 1million target - comes from Devon County Council's new budget for cultural activities. Devon County Council was also hoping to grant another 50,000 in next year's budget for the Appeal.

Whereas funding for Exeter Phoenix will come from Devon County Council's arts investment programme of which 50,000 has already been committed to the Centre for the year 2007/08.

Funding for the redevelopment of Exeter Central Library is a matter for the future and is expected to come from both Devon County Council and external grants. Any savings within the present libraries budget are ring-fenced to be spent on libraries, and the budget is protected for 2007/8 although there is no specific Government grant for libraries.

Executive Member for Culture, Cllr Sheila Hobden, said: "We have been left astonished by this decision - which has apparently been taken using wrong information. It is categorically untrue that by taking the 50,000 we have offered for the Museum, the City Council would leave a hole in the budget for the Library, the Phoenix or indeed any other cultural activities in Exeter.

"Our commitment to the cultural life of Devon is reflected in our new cultural budget for this year. It is a priority because it benefits the people who live here and also brings in visitors which put money into the economy. Exeter is the cultural centre of Devon and the Museum is its apex - a grant of this size could have been used to great effect."

Devon County Council Leader, Cllr Brian Greenslade, said: "I would urge the City Council to think again and welcome the funding for the good of the city's cultural and economic future. The County Council believes the museum is the finest in the South West region, it's a cultural beacon for the city of Exeter and the rest of Devon, but it is badly in need of funding for its redevelopment which a city the size of Exeter simply cannot afford on its own.

"The County Council has a duty to help where it can and we have the capacity to help in this situation. I suspect the tax-payers of Exeter and the wider community of Devon will regard the City Council's decision as frankly incomprehensible."

Devon County Council has given substantial funding to Exeter arts and cultural projects in the current year including:

10,000 to Exeter Phoenix for a bursaries scheme. Sponsorship of a concert in Exeter Cathedral by the Exeter Festival Chorus and London Mozart Players as part of the Exeter Summer Festival 2006

200,000 to the Northcott to support improvements to the theatre (adding to 250,000 given last year)

Sponsoring the screening of an adaptation of Prokofiev's classic tale 'Peter the Wolf' in Exeter Cathedral as part of the Animated Exeter Festival

Funding the Traveltime breakfast show currently broadcasting on Vibraphonic FM.

Next year's grants will include:

50,000 to the Exeter Phoenix for its media centre, with further funding for the following year to be confirmed in July.

45,000 to the Northcott Theatre for its education and community department

10,000 to the RISE SW disability arts studio (10,000 plus the same amount next year).

A total of 100,000 to Dance in Devon, DAISI, RISE SW and Theatre Alibi which are all based in the city or nearby but serve the whole county.

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