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Birmingham City Council Cuts…

December 27, 2010

I am no longer surprised by Birmingham City Councils cuts to BCMG and the other arts organisations who have taken a big hit! On a recent outing to the Prince of Wales in Moseley I had an encounter  with Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture, and when i asked him about the cuts to BCMG he seemed to be unable to recall who the organisation were (‘er…. Birmingham…. Community….?’) and when i reminded him his response was something along the line of that they give them a lot of money, they don’t really do anything for Birmingham, and never get good audiences to their concerts anyway (maybe you should check your facts Mr Mullaney?!) I tried to suggest that having an ensemble of international standing in the city was in fact good for Birmingham in terms of spreading the reputation of Birmingham as a cultural centre and everything that that brings with it, but according to Mr Mullaney, doing something FOR Birmingham = doing something IN Birmingham, and with their apparent ‘bad concert attendances’ (which in actual fact ive been told was an average of 80% capacity for last year!) BCMG aren’t doing anything IN birmingham.

I wonder whether Martin Mulaney has in fact EVER been to a BCMG concert, or knows ANYTHING about their comprehensive and far-reaching education programme?!

However, further to his argument, Mr Mullaney seemed to suggest that the only art worth supporting is that which works with the impoverished communities of e.g. Handsworth and that supporting art for the white middle classes of Moseley etc should not be the job of the Council… you have to wonder then why the council is choosing to continue to fund the likes of the symphony orchestra, the modern art gallery and the ballet which are stereotypically attended by the middle-classes and exactly what Mr Mullaney thinks is not the job of the council to support!

Mr Mullaney also seemed to have no idea who Birmingham Jazz are (another organisation who are getting a 100% cut!) and suggested that if he hasn’t heard of an organisation then they’re clearly not doing a good job, and probably no one else has heard of them either… im more inclined to think that if the Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture hasnt heard of an organisation thats getting an 100% cut to their BCC funding then HE’s probably not doing his job very well and should probably find out who they are and what they do before making a decision of that magnitude!

There was of course the ironic news this week that Stephen and Jackie Newbould, the Director and General Manager of BCMG, have been awarded the RPS Leslie Boosey Award affirming BCMG reputation for high quality and progressive music making. Surely this is something that Birmingham City Council and Martin Mullaney should be PROUD to support!

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