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Education

Banksy Wants to Help Save This UK City's Endangered Libraries


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN's Global Goals call for action to ensure that everyone can read, write, and have access to the opportunity for education. Libraries, like those in Bristol, are a vital tool in that effort, and they must be protected. You can join us by taking action to support education access around the world here

One of the world’s most enigmatic artists has offered his services to save Bristol’s libraries, which were under threat from potential budget cuts.

The anonymous artist Banksy has been confirmed to have reached out to the city’s council, offering philanthropic support. 

The city’s mayor Marvin Rees made the announcement at a council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, in response to questions about whether the rumours of Banksy’s involvement were true. 

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After what local media described as a “loaded glance,” Rees said: “It’s just that a very well-known person from Bristol wrote in and asked us the nature of the challenge and to outline what support we need as a city to meet that challenge, and that person was Banksy.” 

“He has come forward and talked about supporting us and we will see how that plays itself out,” Rees added. “There is nothing signed and delivered and so far it is just a conversation that we had.” 

It’s not yet known what form the support would take, whether financial, or whether it would be offering guidance about options to secure the libraries’ future. 

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Some 17 of the city’s 27 libraries were facing an uncertain future, after the council announced £1.4 million in proposed cuts last year. 

In November, more than 12,000 people reportedly signed petitions speaking out about the importance of the libraries for the community.

Last month, Rees had pledged to find a way to ensure “every single library” would stay open, after the council had found enough money. This was reiterated by Deputy Mayor for Communities, Asher Craig, at the same meeting on Tuesday night, according to theBristol Post

“The mayor has had discussions with a number of organisations and individuals, including Banksy, about supporting out libraries to help build a high quality, sustainable service for the city,” a council spokesperson told the BBC

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“We’re pleased to be working with many of these people to keep libraries open and are keen to develop those conversations further,” they added. 

The council is now looking to develop a “relevant, modernised, and sustainable” library service, to ensure that local communities are able to continue accessing the library services. 

It’s not the first time that Banksy has offered his services to humanitarian efforts. Banksy was last year revealed to have donated over £200,000 to human rights organisation Reprieve and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, raised from the sale of one of his works.

His artworks also generally carry a political message, and he has previously used his work to speak out on the refugee crisis, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and Brexit, among other issues.