So, in the light of our Legacy article, we promised comments from the city’s arts organisations. They’re coming in. We thought we’d share two today – from organisations big and small, but both offering vital creative powerhouses that colour and define our city’s cultural character.

Liverpool Philharmonic, facing a 20% cut to its revenue grant (£284,000), and the vibrant hub of creatives at Elevator’s Arena Studios.

“We are grateful for the confidence and investment that Liverpool City Council gives to this organisation,” says Vasily Petrenko, Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. “It’s enabled us to deliver great music to thousands of people every year here in Liverpool, across the UK and internationally. We’ve achieved a huge amount together and there is still a lot more we can achieve for ourselves and for the City and people of Liverpool, but all this could be lost very quickly with a reduction in funding of this scale,” he says.

“The most successful orchestras in the world are those which have artistic ambition fully backed by their local City. It is only with this backing that we can continue to achieve world class standards and give Liverpool the economic and artistic benefit we have been providing in recent years.”

The RLPO is being hit on all sides. In October 2010, Arts Council England announced a cut of 6.9% to its revenue funded organisations for 2011/12, which in real terms for Liverpool Philharmonic represents a further loss of grant of £166,000. With the proposed 20% cut from the Council, the hugely popular, and resurgent institution faces a reduction in revenue of £450,000 in 2011/12, with further cuts likely from other local authorities.

Michael Eakin, Chief Executive of Liverpool Philharmonic added: “We understand the difficulty of the task that Liverpool City Council faces. However, despite that fact that we generate two thirds of our own income through our own activities, a cut of this magnitude threatens to undermine all that this organisation has achieved in recent years, supported by the City’s investment. It jeopardises our ability to stay on track and sustain a world-class professional symphony orchestra in Liverpool.

“Liverpool Philharmonic is delivering music-making of the highest quality, led by one of the most sought after classical music artists in the world today; through Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, one of the UK’s premiere venues and through a Learning programme that is using the unique power of music to improve health and well-being, aid educational attainment and contribute to community transformation and regeneration.”

With the Philharmonic leading the bid for the city to be nominated as a UNESCO City of Music, it does raise the question – what will happen next?

Pam Sullivan is studio manager at Arena Studios. With its warren of workshops and galleries, Arena is one of the city’s most productive, exciting and vital artistic communities.

“Are we stronger? Yes, but not because of The Capital of Culture,” Pam says, “In fact Arena lost its original home Arena House on Duke Street because of the Capital of Culture! We’re not totally reliant on funding and therefore we have to be clever with what little money we have and can produce exhibitions and events on a shoestring. For the Long Night last year we designed and built a full Chip Shop Take Away from cardboard the whole event cost us about £40 and in the end we made over £200. Larger organisations such as A Foundation have been so reliant on funding that they cannot manage and fold without it where as the studio groups trundle on. Admittedly we are having to batten down the hatches though.

“I don’t think anyone could have envisaged anything on the scale that the Coalition have decimated the arts and voluntary sector in the last few weeks. The council have reacted in the best way they can, I feel they have had to protect vital services and in doing this the arts have suffered. It may not be the best way forward but historically the arts always go first so I don’t think anyone in our sector expected anything different.

“There is an integrity here and a love of art for art sake because there just isn’t the same financial constraints. In Liverpool we choose good art regardless of the value or the name attached to it and we exhibit it, we do not have to play by London rules and so we have greater freedom and therefore a greater range of work and genres to select from. We did this before the Capital of Culture, but 08 highlighted this fact to the rest of the country.”

Liverpool Philharmonic,
Hope Street, Liverpool

Arena Studios and Gallery,
1st Floor Elevator Building,
27 Parliament Street, Liverpool

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