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11 August 2021

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Save Newham's theatres from Labour council cuts!

Join Equity's protest on Saturday 28 August

Stratford Circus, photo Andy Roberts

Stratford Circus, photo Andy Roberts   (Click to enlarge)

James Ivens, secretary, Equity North and East London General Branch

Big cuts to arts jobs and community cultural provision are threatening Stratford, east London. Performing arts union Equity is fighting the Labour council's attacks.

Stratford Circus arts centre is owned by the borough. For years, it ran professional, community and youth arts - a vibrant cultural hub in a working-class community.

But under cover of the pandemic lockdown, the council issued legal threats to the arts centre, forcing it out of the venue - and later out of business. Labour mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz declared the closed-down arts centre would become one of her new "Youth Zones."

Youth services are badly needed in Newham - but there was already youth arts provision in the Circus. By cutting professional job opportunities, the council is also selling out the future careers of young people who use the service.

Stratford Circus arts centre, moreover, had built a prestigious national reputation. It received £300,000 a year from Arts Council England.

Newham Council's decision has lost the borough this national public funding, which represented about a third of the arts centre's budget. It is offering only £200,000 to run the venue as a youth-only service.

That £700,000 gap saves the council nothing. But it represents a big loss of arts jobs and local cultural provision.

The council made the Circus's resident groups homeless after no meaningful consultation with them - and no contact whatsoever with the unions.

In fact, the council ignored three emails from the professional learning-disabled theatre company Blue Sky Actors. After Equity finally got talks, the council dismissed our demands and reneged on a second round.

Meanwhile, buried in budget documents from February was a promise to cut the council's entire £256,000-a-year grant to the next-door venue! Theatre Royal Stratford East was made famous by the great socialist theatre-maker Joan Littlewood. Today it is a major platform for black artists and alternative voices.

Presumably this funding cut - due from 2023-24 - is where the council will 'find' the £200,000 it is 'offering' to fund a youth centre at Stratford Circus. So it's paying for the destruction of arts jobs at one venue but cutting the funding for arts jobs at another!

Stratford East is now the interim management at the Stratford Circus youth arts service - asked to do more with less.

But Newham Council has actually increased its usable reserves during the pandemic - to a whopping £616 million. Its balance sheet exceeds £1 billion.

Equity is demanding that the council commit to restoring full-spectrum professional arts alongside the youth service, and use its reserves to guarantee full funding for both venues. The council should then build a campaign to win the money back from Westminster.

We also demand permanent, professional homes for all the displaced groups. Further, the council should convene a conference of the local unions and residents to set the agenda for management and programming at the venues.

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In The Socialist 11 August 2021:


NHS

Defend the NHS. Fight the Tory pay insult. Prepare strike action!

NHS: Kick out the privatisers, Fight for funding, Build for strike action


News

Tory government nationalises Sheffield steel plant

Tory cuts worsened crime and Johnson 'blitz' won't help

Fight energy price hike

Thanks to the miners - an example of workers' struggle and solidarity

News in brief


Comment

Olympic 'success' masks cuts and inequality in sport

Starmer's faithful Guardian


Campaigns news

Capitalism = climate catastrophe

Rising against a rigged and rotten system - Socialism 2021

London Pride cancelled - pandemic shows protest Pride is necessary

London: Hundreds protest for trans rights

Save Newham's theatres from Labour council cuts!

Socialist Party young members summer school

A day in the life of a young hospitality worker

West Midlands: austerity and capitalism offers no future for young people

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Don't privatise Dudley libraries

Socialist Party: Solely funded by the working class

Review - The Struggle for World Socialism


Housing

Waltham Forest: Fighting for a home for Nadia and homes for all


History

August 1991 - The aborted military coup in the 'Soviet Union'


Workplace news

Ballot majority essential to continue DVLA strike action

Night tube strike suspended to allow talks - scrap compulsory duties!

RMT strike solid on East Midlands rail

You need a union when the time comes to fight

Unions protest at exploitative Leicester company Food Attraction

Over 3,000 votes for fighting socialist programme in CWU

NSSN to lobby TUC


International news

Beirut's devastating port explosion one year on


 

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Related links:

Newham:

triangleNewham college strike solid against bully privatisers

triangleNewham council rejects using 0.03% of reserves to fund arts

triangleTrinity Centre: Shameful eviction by Newham council

triangleNewham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation

triangleBuilding a political alternative to Tory and Labour cuts

Labour:

triangleTrade unionists in the USA fighting back

triangleOaks Park School: valiant strike exposed state of schools

triangleHundreds protest to save St Mary's Leisure Centre in Southampton

triangleLords reject parts of anti-protest bill

Cuts:

triangleTrade unions and the fight against council cuts

triangleBirmingham: Cuts consultations replaced by computer game

trianglePeople's Budget: We beat council cuts before, we will again

Council:

triangleEviction resistance on the march in Waltham Forest

triangleStrike action by Carmarthenshire winter gritters wins concessions from council

Protest:

triangleDemonstrating against the Tory anti-protest bill

Equity:

triangleBiggest protest yet to save Stratford Circus

Arts:

triangleStop the cuts to Uni arts funding

Youth:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Youth fighting back by joining trade unions

Article dated 11 August 2021

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