Council criticised for handing £156,000 to gallery and Chichester Festival Theatre

Pallant House Gallery in Chichester
Pallant House Gallery in Chichester

A senior councillor has criticised the district council for subsidising Chichester Festival Theatre and Pallant House Gallery with £156,000 of its budget for next year.

Simon Oakley, county councillor for Chichester East, said: “The economic benefit case for subsidising these cultural entities is based on questionable methodologies. No clear direct return on investment for CDC is apparent, unlike new employment generating projects.”

“CDC has no control over the expanding senior exec pay bill at CFT, nor payments to performers.

“When CFT’s artistic ambitions overtook financial reality in the late 1990s, CDC bailed it out and has ever since. “Effectively CDC is over a barrel as it’s been seduced into believing CFT is too big to fail.”

The district council will decide on its budget for 2017/18 on March 7.

Cllr Oakley said the proposed two per cent rise in council tax was a direct result of the £156,000 combined that will go to the theatre and gallery, and said issues like homelessness, flood defences and Priory Park were more in need.

A Chichester District Council said that in 2010 the council reduced its funding ‘in light of the economic climate’ and agreed an eight-year combined funding scheme of £3m.

A spokesperson said: “The council continues to recognise that both organisations are large contributors to the local economy and are nationally and internationally recognised, and both attract visitors to the district.

“Between them they attract millions to the local economy each year.

“They both play an important role in the community and carry out a great deal of outreach work.

“Both organisations are aware that we cannot support them to levels experienced in the past but as a council we recognise that support from the local authority is key in enabling both the gallery and the theatre to unlock further funding, including grants from Arts Council England (ACE).

“A review of the cultural grants was carried out at the end of last year and councillors agreed a four-year funding agreement for both organisations starting April 2018, subject to continued Arts Council Funding.

“The performance of both the gallery and theatre will continue to be monitored.”

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