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#BlackArtsMatter – Save The Drum

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Today, Sharon Palmer Chair of Newtown Cultural Project Limited (trading as The Drum) issued a statement that she, along with the other board members, have decided to wind-down the trust. As such, as of Tuesday 29th March, The Drum is in liquidation. In her statement, Ms Palmer stipulated that the doors will remain open until June 2016 but, beyond this, it is not clear what, if any plans exist for the building and for The Drum itself.

Newtown is one of the most deprived areas in the country and The Drum is the only cultural provider in the North of the city and it is the only arts and cultural centre in the UK dedicated to serving a wide range of Black and Minority Ethnic communities who are often not represented in mainstream arts and cultural provision. The Drum is a vital cultural asset and if it closes it will have a detrimental impact on BAME artists and audiences who engage with their work. As such, it is important that everyone lends their support to doing whatever is necessary to keeping it open.


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CHANGES AT THE DRUM

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The board of Newtown Cultural Project Limited, the organisation behind The Drum, has had to make the very hard decision to wind-down the organisation after over 20 years of service to the international, national and local artistic community, audiences and the wider BAME community by June 2016. This decision does not mean that the doors of The Drum will close, events publicised between now and June 2016 will go ahead as planned.

A combination of challenges including the current financial climate, unfortunately came together in a manner that left the board with no viable alternatives. The majority funder for the organisation, Arts Council England was present at the board meeting which took place on Tuesday 29th March 2016, where the final resolution for wind-down and liquidation was passed.

Sharon Palmer MBE, Chair of the Board, stated: “After months of undergoing an organisational review, staff restructures, consultations with staff and external stakeholders, alongside constant negotiations with funders, we can assure the community, staff and supporters that this decision was not taken lightly. Both myself and the board of trustees genuinely feel for everyone affected by this decision, especially for all staff members past and present who have dedicated themselves over the years, and to artists who provided the cultural heart to audiences, young people and parents – without them, Newtown Cultural Project Limited aka The Drum would not have such a strong legacy that we can all be proud of. It is important that the community come forward over the next few months to work together in ensuring this legacy is built upon for the future.”

A community stakeholder, said: “The issues relating to the Drum are very emotive in the community… this is not the platform for recrimination and much can be learnt from this experience as it will enable us, collectively and as individuals to grow stronger and ensure that our cultural facilities are not flitted away as the fall out is not worth thinking about. We (community stakeholders) are solution focused and mindful that we are the guardians of our grandchildren’s heritage. I am committed to making sure the legacy is not lost to us as we must be about inspiring others to dream bigger and achieve opportunities which more often than not has been afforded to our community.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said: “We are aware that The Drum (Newton Cultural Project) has taken the decision to wind down, and understand that this is a challenging and distressing time for the organisation and individuals involved. We remain committed to ensuring that Aston’s communities continue to have access to great arts and culture, and will continue to work with our key partner Birmingham City Council to maintain our investment in the area.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “While the trustees of The Drum have decided they can no longer continue as a viable organisation, Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England remain committed to continuing to support cultural activity in Newtown and the wider Aston area, and for black and minority ethnic audiences. In our local leadership role we will be setting up discussions with a range of artists, community groups and local stakeholders, both partners we already work with and potential partners with an interest in this area. By convening these discussions we will ensure that a wide range of voices is heard, the process of decision-making is transparent and that between us we find a viable solution that genuinely meets local needs.”

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For more information please contact, Margaret Wellington, NCP Trustee

Email: margaretwellington@virginmedia.co.uk
Tel: 07467 941927