COUNCILLORS have urged that “a long-term plan” needs to be put in place to allow the arts and culture scene in Salisbury to survive.

This comes after grants were approved for Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Creative – a combined total of £36,000 – during a city council meeting Monday night, November 15.

Despite unanimous agreement to award the funding, Councillor Paul Sample (Lib Dems) said for some people the arts are “a life changing experience”, and the grant funding application system is not how they should be funded.

During the meeting at the Guildhall, he suggested further discussions be had in how to create “a long-term plan” for these organisations, adding the arts sector could be using Salisbury City Council-owned sites for more events and opportunities.

The need to change the arts grant process was echoed by Cllr Ian Tomes (Lab), and Cllr Chris Stanway (Lib Dems) said that not supporting arts and heritage “puts lives in peril”.

She said the arts “stress the ability to question, to think, and to challenge”, and “any culture that leaves out the arts and heritage is sterile, and is far too often the way the curriculums in schools are going”.

Read more: Live updates from Salisbury City Council’s full council meeting

While also in agreement, Cllr Sven Hocking (Con) said that Wiltshire Creative needed “an action plan to bring the rest of the general public on board”, and it needed to generate its own revenue through more events and collaboration with other organisations, such as Studio Theatre and The Chapel.

In response to this, Wiltshire Creative’s executive director Sebastian Warrack, attending the meeting, said this could only be done “in a gradual way”, due to the impact of Covid-19, a “massive restructure” and reducing staff by a third.

Applying for £20,000, earlier in the meeting Mr Warrack told councillors that the pandemic has had “a significant impact on the finances” of the company that oversees the Arts Centre, Playhouse and International Arts Festival, adding the arts are “more crucial than ever”.

Louise Dancy, Wiltshire Creative’s ‘Take Part’ director, added: “We believe that culture is vitally important to the city’s recovery programme and therefore we need this investment, to ensure we’re able to offer the meaningful activities to the community of Salisbury, from younger people to older people, without inclusion.”

Both the museum and Wiltshire Creative were asked to return to future council meetings to demonstrate how funding was used.

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