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Proposed Funding Cut by Bristol Council

Statement for Cabinet meeting 6pm Tuesday 1 July

Staff and Board of Show Of Strength Theatre Company are shocked at Bristol City Council’s recommendation to withdraw all funding from the company from 31.3.15.

Show Of Strength has pioneered the provision of high quality, low cost arts activity for marginalised communities across Bristol since 1986. The vast majority of our work is outside formal theatres and supports the development of new and diverse participants and audiences. Our particular focus on the communities of South Bristol led to the creation of 2 new venues at the Hen & Chicken and Tobacco Factory in Bedminster. Our work continues in even less formal spaces, and our innovative projects that engage with high streets have significantly contributed to the regeneration of South Bristol and the award of £100,000 to Bedminster as one of the first ‘Portas Pilots’. Our work isrecognised nationally as a model of good practice and our projects replicated across the UK.

This focus on Bristol has enabled us to provide employment for a range of theatre professionals. We develop new writing through free workshops open to all. We give voice to writers of all ages and abilities from the first time to the more experienced. Many writers are from hard to reach communities, whose voices would otherwise not be heard. Looking at the funding recommendations it is hard to see how this vital work will be continued by other organisations because if this cut is implemented Show Of Strength will close.

We are also deeply concerned about due process. On 15 April 2014 we were informed that a report detailing funding recommendations would be sent ‘ to Scrutiny on the way to Cabinet, there is no date set at present for this but again as soon as a date is set and the papers published I will send you the link to the report.’ It is now clear that no scrutiny has taken place. We are aware that the scrutiny procedure altered in June but we question both applying this retrospectively and the failure to inform us of this fact.

In the light of this we request the recommendation with regard to Show Of Strength is referred back by the Cabinet and reconsidered.