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Arts funding and libraries hit as council makes drastic cutbacks
CONTROVERSIAL cuts to arts funding and libraries were tonight (Wednesday, March 6) passed by Newcastle City Council as angry protesters gathered outside to oppose the new budget.
The proposals, entitled 'Fair Choices for Tough Times', have attracted criticism after the council announced they would be making 100 per cent cuts to the arts.
This included famous names such as Bryan Ferry, Sting and Mark Knopfler signing a joint letter to express their opposition.
Speaking at the meeting council leader Nick Forbes said he was deeply angry that "every grant the authority receives is being slashed by an unfair Government".
But he said no one was in any doubt about the financial crisis the council was facing and that the cuts were being made "with a heavy heart and much soul searching".
He said the consultation process had been "bruising", but declared that the council "would be regarded as a civic basket case" if the decisions were not made.
As he spoke about the proposals, which will see cuts of £100m, people shouted and jeered from the public gallery with shouts of shame ringing out.
He was also accused of "spin" and "playing the blame game" by the leader of the Liberal Democrats David Faulkner.
In response to the consultation, where 50,000 pieces of feedback were received, Mr Forbes said a new fund called the Newcastle Culture Fund will be created.
Along with up to £0.6m of council money the new venture will look for outside investment from individuals and organisations.
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