Theatre casualties in Arts Council national portfolio announcement

Richard Frame (Hermia), Thomas Padden (Theseus) & Sam Swainsbury (Demetrius)

Propeller in performance: the theatre company’s future is thrown into doubt without Art Council funding

Arts Council England (ACE) has revealed the organisations who will, and will not, be part of their national portfolio for 2015–18. All-male Shakespeare company Propeller, Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond and radical touring company Red Ladder have not made ACE’s portfolio list, resulting in loss of funding.

Propeller were told by the ACE, ‘’We decided that, taking into account the quality and level of your artform provision available nationally, we preferred other applications.’ Responding to ACE’s comments, the company and Propeller’s director Edward Hall said: ‘Whilst a lack of commitment from ACE to high-quality touring theatre on a financial basis is perhaps understandable, Propeller’s national reach and quality of work cannot be called into question as our track record amply demonstrates. I am sorry that this decision will prevent us from continuing to pursue our national touring programme which has delighted so many thousands of people and which will prevent our company from pursuing its commitment to delivering affordable, high-quality drama in the regions.’

News of Orange Tree Theatre’s funding loss from the ACE came as the new artistic director Paul Miller began his first day in the role. He told BBC news: ‘I think the big, national contradictory pressures that are on the Arts Council were just so great that something had to give – and on that occasion it was us.

‘Once upon a time, the Orange Tree was a fledgling start-up company that had its first Arts Council funding. For new younger companies to get into the system, it means that existing organisations cannot simply take for granted that they will continue to be regularly funded. There are still many ways in which we can continue to take wonderful theatre in our lovely space. We just have to find a financially different way of doing it.’

Other organisations face smaller cuts: The Barbican will lose 18% of funding, while The Southbank Centre, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company will each receive a 3.6% reduction.

Some theatre organisations enjoyed a boost, with increases in funding for Unicorn of 28% and Hull Truck of 46%; welcome news for Hull Truck following the ACE’s assessment of the theatre company earlier this year as facing ‘immediate and serious financial risk’.

This year saw a 2% rise in the allocation of funding to regional companies, with 47% dedicated to organisations in London and 53% to those outside of the capital.

ACE chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said of the portfolio announcements: ‘We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver such a strong and well balanced portfolio.

‘With 46 new entrants to the national portfolio, with increased funding for grants for the arts, and with creative people and places being maintained at its current level over the next period, this settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England’s arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding is declining you have to set priorities – this we have done.’

NAYT cuts jobs due to loss of funding

The National Association of Youth Theatres (NAYT) has had to make job cuts in order to stay in business. All but one of NAYT’s employees will be made redundant by the end of the year. They have also closed their office in Darlington in an effort to stem costs.

The educational charity has suffered major funding losses which has led to drastic job cuts. The Department of Education withdrew their contributions leaving them reliant on council funding. NAYT was then dealt a further blow when in March, when the Arts Council announced that NAYT, one of  the regularly funded organisations, would lose all funding provided by the council.

Jill Adamson, Chief Executive, who will remain the charity’s only employee, said in April: ‘It’s totally soul-destroying to see our organisation suffer and struggle for survival when it has played a vital role in supporting both grass-roots and high-profile organisations for almost 30 years.’

The £240,000 loss of funding has left NAYT struggling for survival. The charity was hoping to raise £100,000 by the end of the year to ensure future operations in 2012. NAYT announced in a statement that to stay in business they would charge registration fees to its members – as they had previously before being asked by the Arts Council to cease in doing so as they were a regularly funded organisation.

To learn more about NAYT visit www.nayt.org.uk