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London theatres suffer funding cuts

Published 30 March 2011

A host of London’s subsidised theatres are today coming to terms with reduced funding announced by Arts Council England (ACE) this morning.

Hardest hit among the capital’s venues is Islington’s Almeida theatre which, from April 2012, will have its funding cut, in real terms, by 39% over the next three years.

Other London venues the BAC, the Donmar Warehouse, Hackney Empire, Hampstead theatre, the Tricycle theatre and the Unicorn theatre all suffer 11% cuts, when inflation is taken into account, while the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and English National Ballet received cuts of 15%. The Royal Court, Lyric Hammersmith and Sadler’s Wells were lesser funding losers, receiving cuts of between 4.4% and 5.5%. Soho theatre was hit harder, with a 17.6% reduction in funding, while the Young Vic emerged a funding winner with a three-year rise of 5.5%.

The funding announcement is the first since the government revealed that it would be cutting ACE’s grant in aid budget by 29.6%, 14.9% of which was passed on to the portfolio of companies that ACE is able to support.

A new application process, which replaced the collection of Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) with a new National Portfolio, received 1,333 funding applications requesting £1.4 billion of investment. With only £950 million to award, 585 of the 791 previous RFOs that applied were successful with their applications, as were 110 of the 542 new organisations that applied. Among the new companies receiving funding are Mercury Musical Developments and Perfect Pitch Musicals Ltd, both of which strive to encourage new musical theatre, and innovative, boundary-pushing theatremakers Coney.

Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of Arts Council England, commented: “This is about a resilient future for the arts in England. We have taken the brave path of strategic choices, not salami slices, which has meant some painful decisions, and it is with great regret that we have had to cease funding some good organisations. But we will still be supporting excellence, exceptional talent and successful risk-taking; helping organisations to get their great work out far and wide; backing strong leadership and cultural entrepreneurialism; supporting resilient organisations that can thrive as well as survive; and encouraging work that really enthuses children and young people – because that’s were it all begins.”

The Chief Executive of ACE, Alan Davey, added: “After a thorough process, we believe we have achieved a balance of continuity and change, and of local and national. And we’ve enabled artists and arts organisations to continue to create the great art from which so much springs. This is a collection of decisions that will mean the arts will not retreat from the important part they play in our national life.”

Other notable funding decisions include rises of 26.9% and 27.7% for theatre companies Told By An Idiot and Ridiculusmus, an 82.1% rise for Dalston’s Arcola theatre, a 141% rise for site-specific theatre company Punchdrunk, and a 203.5% rise for producers FUEL. There were also 11% losses for English National Opera, Cardboard Citizens, Cheek By Jowl, Tamasha, Clean Break, Headlong and the Orange Tree theatre, while Out Of Joint received a 27.9% reduction in funding. Shared Experience and Riverside Studios have had all of their funding cut.



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