A year on from cuts to theatre funding

NTC Gillian Hambleton.
NTC Gillian Hambleton.
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A theatre company which lost out on vital funding last year is still forging ahead with productions, despite the future remaining uncertain.

Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) wasn’t short-listed for cash from Arts Council England in April last year, which meant it lost 65 per cent of its core funding.

Since then the company, headed by artistic director Gillian Hambleton, has applied for numerous grants and secured £158,000 in total.

But that is no guarantee of success this year or beyond as there are a limited number of trusts and foundations for arts projects or core funding, all of which are heavily oversubscribed. Many also require a gap of at least two years before reapplying.

Gillian said: “Despite a major strategic business overhaul and diversification of income streams, our main mission of touring to non-traditional theatre spaces limits income opportunities and our time is now focused on the fund-raising, not on the art or on our audiences.

“NTC has been providing exceptionally high-quality, professional touring theatre for over 30 years to rural communities without access to professional theatre.

“Its audiences span all age ranges, across generations, in familiar venues on the doorstep.

“NTC is one of the few professional theatre companies still providing this service to rural communities, without it many older people and children would be denied access to quality theatre due to geographic, financial, transport or social constraints.

“NTC’s future is uncertain, but we will continue to fight for what we believe in, are passionate about and have invested 20 years of our lives in delivering; high-quality theatre in village halls and great art for everyone!”

Over the next two years a number of new plays and ventures are being performed in and around Northumberland including Rallying Round, written by Stewart Howson (see below), The Queen’s Reel by Judy Steel, a new drama for the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden entitled Once Upon a Time...in the North, magical tales and stories from the region for family audiences, and Brassed Off, working with community brass bands. Visit www.northumberlandtheatre.co.uk