Arts Council To Decide On Cuts

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Some of the demonstrators who marched through Norwich last weekend against the Arts Council cuts that threaten the future of hundreds of theatre groups across Britain
Some of the demonstrators who marched through Norwich last weekend against the Arts Council cuts that threaten the future of hundreds of theatre groups across Britain

A CLOSED Arts Council meeting is being held in the Roundhouse in Camden, north west London on Tuesday at 1.30pm, to ratify swingeing ‘death sentence’ cuts to 200 theatres and theatre companies around the country.

Arts Council spokesman Emma Russell told News Line yesterday: ‘It is a closed meeting, not open to the public at all.

‘Each Regional Council has looked at the recommendations of the Arts Council along with responses from the organisations and on the 29th the National Council meets and they ratify all the decisions made by the regions.

‘Then from there we will be contacting all our funded organisations in writing and making the final decisions public on February 1st.

‘We are having a small press conference at the Hampstead Theatre at 11am next Friday morning.’

Theatre companies News Line spoke to yesterday said they were fighting the cuts all the way.

Alisha Whittington from Quicksilver children’s theatre company which is being cut by 52 per cent amounting to £130,000, said: ‘The cuts threaten our existence.’

Jennie Clarke, from London Bubble, said: ‘They are planning to cut our £420,000 grant 100 per cent from this April, which will undoubtedly close the company.

‘We’ve been going for 35 years and have grown as an organisation massively, to become today one of the most vibrant and accessible participatory programmes in the arts at the moment.

‘We have a really rich history of education work across south-east London and beyond, predominantly Greenwich, Southwark and Lewisham.’

Steve Ball, Chair of ASSITEJ UK, theatre for young audiences, told News Line: ‘Our major concern is the lack of transparency of the process. It’s very harmful.’

‘A number of organisations, including Equity, Action for Children’s Arts, the ITC (Independent Theatre Council), members of our organisation and the companies that have been directly affected and others will all be lobbying the Arts Council meeting on Tuesday.’

Sarah Foster, from Creative Arts East, said: ‘They are cutting our £160,000 completely from April 1. It will mean we will cease to exist.

‘It was a brilliant march through Norwich last week. More than 1,000 came, everyone was on message. A national demonstration would be a good idea.’