Arts Council cuts threaten Manchester cultural festival

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A leading LGBT arts organisation is facing a bleak future after its funding for next year has been cut.

queerupnorth was the first queer festival and was the first of its kind in the UK and Europe and describes itself as “the most adventurous and creative queer arts cultural producer in the UK.”

Arts Council England has announced plans to end £98,000 of funding of queerupnorth in March 2008.

The festival is among the 194 arts bodies which the Arts Council has informed of drastic or total funding cuts.

“This will lead to the cancellation of the 2008 festival in Manchester, halt all future touring plans, end our unique programme of work for young people, and result in the immediate closure of the organisation,” said a queerupnorth press release asking for people to lobby the Arts Council.

“We are launching an appeal to encourage Arts Council England to reconsider their decision, and continue supporting queerupnorth. If you have enjoyed or benefited from queerupnorth in any way during the last 15 years – as artists, as audiences, as participants – we urge you to show your support.

Last month The UK’s leading producer and presenter of lesbian, gay and queer performance announced it is to appeal against the Arts Council’s decision to stop its £250,000 funding from April 2008.

The Drill Hall in central London, whose partons include choreographer Matthew Bourne, Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes and comic Julian Clary, has a established an international reputation for championing the work of new artists, performers and theatre practitioners.

Originally built in 1882 as a drill hall for the Bloomsbury Rifles, this year it has been celebrating its 30th anniversary as a leading producer and presenter of lesbian, gay and queer performance.

Julie Parker, artistic director and chief executive, said: “I am shocked and dismayed by this decision, and we will be appealing against it.”