Two Birmingham music organisations which had seen all of their funding withdrawn from the city council have been granted a stay of execution if they join a new hub promoting music in Birmingham.
The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, or BCMG, and Birmingham Jazz were both threatened with closure after the funding they received from the council was cut, giving them just six months to find new backers.
They were among 11 which saw their funding for 2011-12 halved as part of a bid to shave almost £2 million from the city council’s arts budget.
The 50 per cent cut served as a transitional payment before their funding was due to end completely.
Now, following concerted lobbying, the two music groups will be given an extra six months funding if they make moves to join a cost-saving music hub with the Symphony Hall, CBSO, Town Hall, Ex-Cathedra and other groups.
The new hub will share back office functions such as administration, human resources and marketing in a bid to keep going.
Cabinet member for culture Martin Mullaney (Lib Dem, Moseley and Kings Heath) said: “No one wants to make any reductions in funding but we are in a difficult situation.
"I have been a big supporter of the arts and believe they are crucial to the city economy. I have tried to make this as painless as possible.”
He said that when the cuts were announced in December he met the two groups and found that the music hub idea could help them survive, if they were given a year.
“I have agreed to the six months funding with an additional six months if they are seen to make progress towards a hub.”
In total annual arts funding will reduce from just over £12 million a year to almost £10.2 million a year for the next three years.
Andrew Jowett, chief executive of the Symphony Hall and Town Hall, said: “The work of BCMG and Birmingham Jazz, along with Town Hall, Symphony Hall, CBSO and Ex Cathedra, is an essential part of Birmingham’s world class music offer.
“In response to the council’s call for more efficiencies we are pioneering even more ways of working more closely together. We hope to save money, but most importantly we are excited by the idea of a combined artistic programme.”
CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock added: “We recognise difficult decisions need to be made in the current financial climate.
‘‘We are positive about continuing this consortium approach to deliver world class concerts in Birmingham.”
The changes to arts funding were brought about following a challenge to funding cuts from the council’s leisure, sport and culture scrutiny committee.
But the committee’s challenge that councillor Mullaney had breached protocol by discussing cuts directly with arts organisations on the Created In Birmingham website before presenting them to the cabinet was dismissed.