on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Funding Cuts for Birmingham Photography Collection

Internationally Acclaimed Collections at Risk

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Funding cuts in the Arts were an inevitability due to the economic crisis - most of the arguments regarding cuts are about how far is acceptable and how far is too far. Cutting too far will inevitably erode our own arts foundations, never mind the fact that our creative output is one of our biggest exports valued at £8m per hour and our arts and culture worth nearly 1bn per year from tourist revenues [reference].

People may say “Only a small portion of the creative arts in the country generates most of that revenue” but they forget that art output doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Artists draw inspiration from the world around them and also from our art heritage. The ability to see the work of artists throughout the country has inspired generations of new artists.

So when serious funding cuts hit the Birmingham Library there was a bit of a shock through the photographic community. Bear in mind that Birmingham Library's Photographic Collection is the only photographic collection in the country to be awarded ‘designated’ status (a recognition of international importance) and the work therein has been donated on the understanding that the public will gain access to it and the artists in some cases will be able to continue working with it. For those interested in landscape photography, the collection holds John Blakemore’s life’s work and it was contributed to the gallery for considerably less money than the collection could have been sold on the open market because John could see the public benefit that would arise from doing so. You can see John talking about his donation here. The proposed cuts would remove most of the benefit that John could see in his donation.

Even if this budget cuts goes through - that isn't the worst case scenario. That would be continuing budget cuts (which will happen - we’re less than half way through planned cuts so far) and collections will start to be sold in order to raise money for the government. To people who don’t think this can happen, take a look here.

Francis Hodgson and the BJP have both written excellent articles about this and although the window for consulation has closed, the change.org petition is still open - please sign it if you agree that these cuts are a bad deal for our creative industries.


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