Birmingham Opera Company to Lose Funding from Birmingham City Council

By Francisco Salazar

The Birmingham Opera Company has lost 50 percent of its grant from Birmingham City Council this year and 100 percent in the next financial year.

The news comes as the Birmingham City Council is attempting to fill a £300m budget shortfall over the next two years after declaring itself bankrupt in September. Among the measures that the city council is looking at are a 21 percent council tax rise and a £1.25bn sell-off of assets to repay a government bailout loan.

Support that will be retained include Black History Month and Birmingham Heritage Week in 2024-25  but they will face 100 percent cut from 2025-26.

The International Dance Festival will lose its £350,000 funding while City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham REP Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, IKON Gallery, FABRIC, Sampad, Ex Cathedra, Legacy Centre of Excellence, and B:Music will lose 50 percent of its grant this year and 100% next year.

In response to the cuts the arts organization released a statement noting:

We are devastated at what the recently announced Birmingham City Council cuts could mean for Birmingham and the impact that they would have on people’s daily lives across the city.

The arts, culture, and heritage industries play a vital role in the economic and social life of our city; enhancing people’s lives, supporting jobs, and putting Birmingham on the world-stage.

In the face of ongoing austerity and reduction in public funding, alongside COVID-19 and rising inflation, the arts and culture sector has continued to be resilient. We remain open, and continue to welcome audiences, work with communities, and support artists in Birmingham, the UK, and internationally; as the sector responsible for the talent, development, and inspiration pipelines for the UK’s global economic and reputational success, we don’t plan on stopping.

The city council’s proposals would see investment in the cultural sector cut by 60% in 2024 and 100% in 2025.

The CBSO has received funding from Birmingham City Council for the past 104 years, and so we are saddened by the proposals contained within the draft budget. The cut will of course have lasting impact on the breadth and depth of work that we can deliver for the city, but nonetheless, we are determined to remain an essential part of Birmingham’s cultural landscape. We will take some time now to reflect on our future plans, but still look forward to announcing a vibrant and exciting new season in May.

As members and affiliates of Culture Central, we continue to work together to advocate for the vital work taking place across Birmingham’s cultural sector. We call for creative solutions towards continued investment in the arts, and commit to collaborating with the council on a clear strategy to secure a bright future for our city.