CULTURE chiefs have vowed to fight the Arts Council's 'outrageous' decision to axe nearly £500,000 of annual funding for Watermans arts centre in Brentford.
The body, which distributes funding for cultural schemes, last week rejected the centre's appeal against a total cut in financial support from the end of March.
Watermans - a leading venue for Asian arts - plans to appeal the verdict and even challenge the Arts Council in a tribunal.
Council leader Peter Thompson pledged to hold a meeting with the chairman and chief executive of the Arts Council to 'demand an explanation'.
"This is an outrageous decision based on shoddy evidence and a total lack of consultation. We are appalled by the whole process and this entire affair leaves a nasty taste in the mouth," he added.
Meanwhile, Watermans chiefs this week questioned the motives behind the cut.
"We are flabbergasted and really can't understand the reasoning," said marketing director Leigh Stops. "The Arts Council can't really have full knowledge of what we do and I think we are not very important to them."
The move represents a 30 per cent drop in income for the centre - which runs the largest club for people with learning disabilities in Europe as well as numerous other projects.
Although organisers, who will review all expenditure in the coming weeks, remain confident these frontline services will not be axed, concerns remain.
"This decision means that we cannot yet get back to doing what we do best - providing arts and cultural opportunities and experiences for the local community," said director Jan Lennox.
An Arts Council spokeswoman defended the appeal's rejection.
"Despite significant investments aimed at stabilising Watermans, our concerns about the organisation's artistic programme, fundraising and audience development remain and we do not believe Watermans to be a viable investment as a fit-for-purpose arts facility," she said.