Playhouse in plea for backers

AN appeal has been made for funders to support Alnwick Playhouse in the wake of money cuts.

The rallying call comes after the arts venue and Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) lost out on a three-year joint funding bid from Arts Council England, which would have secured projects until 2015.

The disappointing news – announced in March – meant that the Playhouse would lose seven per cent of its income. It had a more profound impact on NTC, as the touring company relies heavily on Arts Council cash.

Now, Roy Todd, chairman of Alnwick District Playhouse Trust, has written to MP Sir Alan Beith, as well as political, business, community and arts leaders in the region in response to the cuts and has urged funders to back the Playhouse.

In the letter, Mr Todd appealed for ‘wholehearted support’.

He writes: “Many highly-regarded arts organisations – and we count ourselves in that category – fell foul of government cuts affecting the Arts Council.

“We have been assured by the Arts Council that both organisations (Playhouse/NTC) may apply for other strategic and project Arts Council funds, which, in due course, we fully intend to do.

“However, the Board of Trustees now have an immediate obligation to ensure that the people of Alnwick and district, ie a large part of central Northumberland, continue to have access to the best possible programme and facilities at the Playhouse...”

As well as funding, Mr Todd also told the Gazette that it was important for people to support the Playhouse by buying tickets for shows and events and joining the Friends of the Playhouse scheme.

He thanked local councils, funding organisations and individuals who have supported the Playhouse during its 20-year history and urged local leaders to back the arts venue, which was described in a recent consultant’s report as ‘amongst the lowest funded venues in the UK, but arguably one of the most valued by local people’.

l The Playhouse Trustees have announced the appointment of Joanne Potts as the new Arts Centre Manager, who will take up the post at the beginning of August.

Newcastle-born Ms Potts graduated in Performing Arts from Leicester’s De Montfort University and has worked as Arts Development Officer at the Old Meeting House Arts Centre, in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, and more recently as Education and Outreach Manager at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle.

l Turn to Page 10 for Mr Todd’s letter in full