Article published: Sunday, May 1st 2011
Around 100 people stole a few hours away from royal wedding celebrations to mourn the death of public services at a mock funeral held in St Anne’s Square.
The mourners, many dressed in black, listened to speakers explaining the impacts of coalition policy on education, welfare provision, immigration, children’s services and the arts. In March Manchester City Council agreed to implement budget cuts of around £109 million, putting the future of many local public services into jeopardy. Particularly vigorous campaigns have arisen in response to the threat of closure of Sure Start centres and youth services. Last month, Arts Council spending cuts forced the greenroom arts venue to announce it would close.
Following a performance from The Art Corner, who organised the event, the assembled set off on a procession down the Oxford Road, carrying coffins bearing the name of different services under threat and accompanied by music.
Louise Woodcock, a local artist speaking at the event, said to MULE that the cuts show that the government “doesn’t value art, and are just focusing on things that make money, rather than things that might be meaningful and valuable in other ways.
“We need more meaningful activities and more meaningful forms of communication to make sense of the world, especially when things are difficult – art is how we do that, so at a time like this it’s an essential thing to have in our lives.”
Rosanne Robertson, organiser of the Manchester Artists Bonfire, said the purpose of the event had been partly to bring together artists and other groups of people fighting against the cuts, saying that their concerns “all tie into the same thing: we’re not happy with the way things are and we need an orchestrated response.”
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