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05 Jan 2024

This week Suffolk County Council announced its intention to withdraw investment to the county’s arts and culture organisations, affecting not only DanceEast, but also New Wolsey Theatre, Eastern Angles Theatre, First Light Festival, Primadonna Festival, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, and Suffolk ArtLink. The proposal represents a 100% cut to the Council’s allocated budget and would take effect from April 2025.

Brendan Keaney OBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of DanceEast, said: “Any short-term political decision made by the Council to cull 100% of the funding for the county’s cultural organisations will have significant long-term consequences for Suffolk’s people, including our children and vulnerable people.  It seems particularly short sighted and won’t deliver value for money for Suffolk residents.

Dance plays a pivotal role in bringing people together, creating a sense of belonging and community, and supporting positive health and wellbeing for people of all ages. Many of our current activities are delivered in conveniently accessible locations across the county in local libraries, schools’ workshops, residential care settings and via digital projects.  13,000 people annually take part in our dance activities, including 4,500 children from early years to 18.

To have to curtail any of these community projects or outreach activities would mean that some children could miss out on vital curriculum-led dance education, including those living in rural areas.  Disabled people, people living in residential care settings, and people living with dementia could also miss out on vital activities that boost their health and wellbeing.  

Much of our work plays a critical and complementary role to frontline services, which the Council is trying to protect.  Dance activity has been proven to reduce the risks associated with dementia by preventing falls, maintaining brain function, and increasing feelings of belonging, which saves the NHS and other publicly funded social care services millions of pounds each year.  

We are calling upon Suffolk County Council to reconsider its harsh proposal and asking all our supporters and service users to write to their County Councillor as soon as possible. You can find your elected representatives using your postcode at the website”

The next important meeting when Suffolk County Council will present full details of its financial plans for 2024/5 is the Scrutiny Committee on 11 January.  The final debate and vote will happen at Full Council meeting on 15 February.