COUNCILLORS have approved plans for arts venues in Torfaen to have their funding cut as the council looks to save millions of pounds under increasing financial pressure.

Funding for Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall, the Congress Theatre and Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre is set to be cut, after the plans were approved at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The cuts will see a total of £12,000 saved next year, and £42,000 over the next four years.

Cllr Alan Jones said that in an “ideal world” the cuts would not be made, but that the phased approach over four years will allow the venues time to plan.

The meeting heard that the council has worked with the venues to agree the reductions, and that support will be given to help them find alternative funding.

Leader of the council, Cllr Anthony Hunt, said: “We wish we were not in the position we are in because we do not want to make savings from organisations like this, but austerity enforces that upon us.”

And Cllr Richard Clark said a longer term reduction in funding was a better approach than year-on-year cuts.

Out of the three venues, Cwmbran’s Congress Theatre receives the most funding at £61,000, but this will be cut by £5,000 per year, to £41,000 in four years.

Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre will see its funding of £18,000 reduced by £2,000 per year, to £10,000 in four years.

Meanwhile Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall, owned by the council, currently receives support by way of ‘waived’ rent and utilities, with running costs currently standing at £28,000.

But contributions will be cut to £14,000 over the four years.

Cllr Veronica Crick said Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre was grateful for the council’s approach which allowed them to plan ahead.

The cuts came as councillors received an update on the budget forecast which shows overall pressures of £8.5million facing the council.

A council report says the authority needs to find around £25million of savings over the next four years.

Particular pressures have been highlighted within the social care and housing department, where the authority is now predicted to spend £1.761m more than expected.

Cllr Hunt warned the year ahead will be the most difficult for local services “in living memory.”

He said: “Austerity is a bit like pulling an elastic band and as we go on to the eighth year of pulling that elastic band we have had to pull it a bit tighter every year.”

“Sooner or later it’s going to give way, sooner or later things are going to break,” he added.