Funding tragedy

IT’S sad news that another funding bid for Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) has failed.

To lose out on a joint bid with the Alnwick Playhouse for three years’ worth of capital from the Arts Council was a big enough blow by itself, but to fail again, despite meeting all the criteria, is very disappointing.

With rising fuel costs, household bills on the up and the credit crunch continuing to bite, people living in rural areas will find it even more difficult to access the arts.

That is where NTC’s touring theatre programme comes in.

And while community venues, audiences and promoters are clamouring for the group to continue, it seems that the Arts Council is against helping.

The company will bid for cash from a strategic touring fund, but it may still have to find £50,000 to tide it over when grants are already thin on the ground.

The disparity in funding between what the Playhouse and NTC receive from Northumberland County Council, compared to the Queen’s Hall at Hexham and The Maltings at Berwick – which were both successful in getting their three-year Arts Council funding with huge increases – is also a concern.

If the others are now in a much better financial position, could it be time for the county council to focus its efforts on helping the Alnwick-based arts instead?

Something needs to be done, and quickly, to keep NTC going, otherwise the county will lose a wealth of talent, skill and expertise which cannot be found elsewhere.