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Support for Seven Stories as it fights funding cut
23.01.13 | Charlotte Williams
Seven Stories, the national centre for children's books, is making a final push to galvanise support against Newcastle city council's plans to cut all funding to the body by 2015/16, with authors and publishers adding their voices to the campaign.
Newcastle's proposed 100% cuts to local arts organisations would mean Seven Stories would lose 13% of its total income. The cuts would be staggered, with the council's contribution to Seven Stories' income dropping to 11% of the total in 2013/14, to 5% in 2014/15 and down to 0% in 2015/16.
The council's consultation on its plans is open until 1st February and Seven Stories is urging the public to lodge their concerns via email.
Seven Stories chief executive Kate Edwards said: "We are..wanting to work with the local authority, and I think we have put across in communications with our supporters that we understand the authority is in a difficult situation, and we do understand it is making substantial cuts across different sectors... We were founded here because of the difference we could make to families in the region, and the conversation we are having is that having a vibrant arts and culture is so important to a city. We want to make the case that for a relatively small amount of council expenditure, arts and culture organisations make a good contribution to the well-being of a community, and to the development and regeneration of a region."
Programme director Alison Gwynn said: "Our campaign is going well and we've had a good number of really heart-warming responses which have been overwhelmingly supportive from both our regional (especially Newcastle) family visitors and from supporters and visitors nationwide who really recognise, value and champion what we do, the quality of our work and who have thoughtfully articulated the impact that has on them and the city of Newcastle."
Walker Books picture books publisher Deirdre McDermott, a Seven Stories trustee, said the cuts would create a "debt for the future". She said: "It is a really valuable resource for us as publishers, and also for children... In not funding Seven Stories we are just creating a debt for the future. It's a really democratic place, the full gamut of readers and non-readers are going there, and it is held in really high regard by authors and illustrators. It is completely used and resourced, and it is an international resource-nowhere else in the country really talks about the fundamentals of English publishing. There are obviously lots of thing being cut-and who is to say what is more important-but Seven Stories run a very tight ship, they are there for the love of books and story and printed books."
Author Lucy Coats said in a post on shared author website An Awfully Big Blog Adventure: "In real terms, [the cuts would mean] that they'd lose their ability to carry on with their important outreach and learning work-work that benefits disadvantaged families, parents and children who might otherwise never even be touched by the world of reading."
It is understood that a full Newcastle council meeting will be held in early March to review the results of the consultation.