MPs question queerupnorth funding cut

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A group of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs have condemned a decision by the Arts Council in England to stop funding a gay and lesbian arts festival in Manchester.

John Leech, Jeremy Corbyn, Stephen Williams, Simon Hughes and Mark Williams have signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons highlighting the work that queerupnorth does tackling homophobic bullying in schools.

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

queerupnorth 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 for the organisation in March 2008.

It is among 194 arts bodies 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.

Arts Council England, responding to the EDM from MPs, told the BBC:

“We believe that queerupnorth still does not represent best value for money.

“Arts Council England’s commitment to gay and lesbian organisations in the North West remains as strong as ever.

“In recent years we have funded the Manchester Pride (including this year’s parade), Homotopia, the Lesbian and Gay Foundation and a number of specific projects including new commissions and individuals such as David Hoyle (Divine David), Sphere (a South Asian lesbian artists collective), Sparkle (for the Manchester transvestite community) and Darren Suarez.”

queerupnorth’s artistic director said the Arts Council decision was made using outdated figures and incorrect information.

Another leading producer and presenter of lesbian, gay and queer performance 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.