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Proposals also include phasing out subsidy to the annual Godiva Festival.  

A crowd watching the stage at the Godiva Festival 2018

Charlie Shelton

Coventry Council is planning to reduce some of its future cultural spending as part of a range of measures designed to save £11m across all its services in the coming years.

The proposals include a 15% reduction in funding from 2025/26 for Culture Coventry, which runs two museums in the city, and the Belgrade Theatre Trust - both members of Arts Council England's National Portfolio.

Also up for review is the "phasing out" subsidy to the Godiva Festival, which the council acknowledges will likely lead to significant increases in ticket prices.  The council will consider the proposals in a cabinet meeting on 12 December, with final budget plans to be voted on in February.


Proposals to reduce the level of funding to Culture Coventry and the Belgrade Theatre would save £380,000 a year in 2025/26 and 2026/27.

An impact assessment found the changes would likely result in “a reduction of services and events” for both organisations. It suggested the cuts would impact “residents' access to cultural and heritage venues, programmes, workshops and arts performances, potentially leading to increased prices”. 

The report also acknowledges that decreased local funding may “potentially impact national funding from arts and cultural organisations”.

Belgrade Interim CEO, Neil Murray, told Arts Professional that the theatre was “grateful for the continued support of Coventry City Council in what is a very testing time for local authority funding”.

“We look forward to meeting with them to discuss the implications of a possible grant reduction in 2025/26 and will work with them to minimise any impact on the Belgrade’s activities and output,” he added.

Meanwhile, Coventry Council estimates it will save £300,000 a year in 2025/26 and 2026/27 by pursuing outside investment and "commercial activity” to cover the costs of the Godiva music festival held annually in the city's War Memorial Park.

The council intends to replace its core funding for the festival by 2025/26 by introducing “a combination of higher ticket prices, external funding and more sponsorship”. 

'Less representative audience'

An equalities impact assessment acknowledges that the move would likely shift the festival from a community-oriented event to “a narrower, more commercially focused one” with an audience “less representative of the city’s demographic”. 

It added that opportunities for local communities and emerging artists to perform or participate in the festival programme would likely reduce and that ticket prices would “significantly increase”. Charges for the festival were first introduced in 2019, and in 2023, prices for a single adult day ticket started at £8.

A council spokesperson said that they were "actively applying for grant funding, seeking commercial sponsorship and wider revenue streams to offset costs and support delivery in future years". 

Coventry is one of eight local authorities that some experts believe may be forced to issue a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy because of high debt levels.

A Coventry City Council spokesperson said that "like many local authorities across the country", it is "feeling the increasing pressure of our funding not reflecting the dramatic rise in demand on statutory services made worse by wider inflationary pressures.

“Such pressure means we are being forced to look at all our spending".

They added: “This financial year, Coventry City Council increased its investment in culture, and there are no proposed cuts in the next financial year (2024/25). 

"Earlier this year, Coventry City Council announced its support for Coventry Culture Works – a new partnership working alongside leaders in the cultural, creative and wider sectors in the city to take culture forward and deliver the city’s ambitious 10-year cultural strategy. 

“A new Cultural Strategy Action Plan is in development and the City Council is working closely with sector partners to secure efficiencies and impact through the Council’s ongoing and significant investment in culture.”

Arts Professional has approached Culture Coventry for comment.

A headshot of Mary Stone