Better value for money

THE Gazette has published a number of articles over the past few months regarding the loss of Arts Council funding for the NTC and Alnwick Playhouse, the most recent being a letter from Sheena Campbell, who I know is an ardent supporter of both, in which she questions the mental state of Arts Council members.

I am sure that in other parts of the country similar letters have been written to the press following the loss of funding to their local theatre company.

However, in line with cuts in public expenditure generally, I believe the Arts Council has been told by the government to cut 15 per cent from what it gives to culture groups by 2015.

Consequently, the council must ensure that any funding it provides to theatre companies gives excellent value for money, something which requires far more than simply providing a ‘good performance’.

The joint application for funding submitted by the NTC/Playhouse was, I understand, a not insignificant sum in the order of £400k with the NTC element being around £350k making it a largely NTC bid.

Considered against other applications the bid was rejected by the Arts Council as ‘poor’.

Presumably the council considered that other theatre companies could provide better value for money.

The NTC has benefited frrm substantial funding in the past, presumably to the detriment of other theatre companies.

The provision of regular public funding to an organisation can, I believe, result in an element of complacency creeping in with little effort made to identify other sources of funding, cut out waste and inefficiency or instigate new initiatives.

Loss of funding tends to focus minds resulting, in the case of the NTC, in them embarking on a major fund-raising scheme, something which, perhaps has been lacking until now. I hope they are successful and can continue to operate.

As to the Playhouse, it does have an active Friends organisation which, over the years, has made substantial financial donations towards the upkeep and improvement of the theatre.

I believe the loss of funding has not had a major impact, with other alternative revenue sources having been identified.

As a result, I look forward to its continued success under its new manager.

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