I’M writing in support of the open letter to Sir Alan Beith MP written by Roy Todd, chairman of Alnwick Playhouse Trust (Gazette letters, Thursday, June 2).
Sir Alan should also be aware that Alnwick Playhouse as an organisation has undergone extraordinary growth over the last four years, consisting of 30 per cent increase in annual footfall to events and exhibitions; 30 per cent increase in volume of annual ticket sales; 45 per cent increase in annual turnover; the eradication of a pre-existing negative working capital deficit bringing about a vastly-improved positive working capital at year end March 2011.
All this has not come about by accident.
It has been the result of hard work and determination to offer a broad and appealing programme and with a slightly commercial approach rather than an over-reliance on funding from Arts Council or Government grants. However the recent harsh cuts to core public funding (such as the complete loss of Arts Council grant for 2012-15) now put The Playhouse in a very difficult position and there are challenging years ahead to make up that shortfall. That is why the support right now of Sir Alan and others is so crucial.
The particular achievements at the Playhouse over the last four years have been quite remarkable in the context that Alnwick Playhouse is one of the lowest publicly-funded arts centres in the UK (the level of subsidy received is just 17 per cent of income) with a very small staff of only 4.7 employees (full-time equivalent).
I am certain that our community will look forward to further plans for improvements for customers and upgrades to the building, and would urge Sir Alan (and indeed all others within our community) to celebrate the Playhouse’s success and do everything possible to support the long-term wellbeing of our beautiful theatre.