Teaming up to keep arts alive

Gillian Hambleton, NTC artistic director, and Jo Potts, Playhouse arts centre manager.
Gillian Hambleton, NTC artistic director, and Jo Potts, Playhouse arts centre manager.

CHRISTMAS next year could be cancelled for a touring theatre company whose funding was slashed earlier this year.

In March, Alnwick Playhouse and Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) found out that their joint bid for three years’ Arts Council cash was unsuccessful leaving them fighting for funds.

But they have bitten back and on Monday a joint cultivation event was held to drum up support for both the theatre and NTC.

Council leaders, charitable trusts and local supporters were told that both have a big task ahead of them but neither will go down without a fight.

For NTC the cuts mean they will lose 65 per cent of their budget from April 2012.

And while the company is hopeful that grants for arts funding will cover productions in summer and autumn next year, the Christmas production in winter is in jeopardy.

However if the grant application is unsuccessful NTC could fold after its spring production next year.

Gillian Hambleton, NTC chief executive and artistic director said: “Our achievements and successes are haunted by the spectre of our demise.

“But we are resilient and resourceful.

“We have sound financial management, excellent governance, strong leadership and a dedicated team.

“We are committed and determined and passionate about what we do and the family that is NTC has risen to this challenge because we will not go down without a fight.

“If we don’t do a Christmas show in 2012 there will be 2,000 children who won’t get to see a piece of professional theatre.”

The InterACT programme which was set up for arts trainees has also been chopped as part of the cuts.

A new friends programme for the NTC has been launched and donations can be made

The cuts mean that the Playhouse will lose seven per cent of its funding as well.

Jo Potts, recently appointed as arts centre manager at the theatre, said: “This is an opportune moment for me to look with a fresh eye and discover new ways in which our programme may be rejuvenated and enhanced by new collaborations, projects and partnerships.

“The professional touring programme will not only feed into and inspire the work created by the community, but deliver the highest quality music, theatre and dance companies available to the door of Alnwick residents, Northumberland and beyond, providing that all-important connection to the wider arts world.”

Roy Todd, chairman of the Alnwick District Playhouse Trust, said: “Our challenge for the future is to retain and attract new audiences with exciting theatre, music, dance and film that are also excellent value for money.”