The show will go on, vow staff

A THEATRE company which faces cancelling its next big show has vowed to continue no matter what.

Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) lost out on funding from the Arts Council last year when a joint funding bid with the Alnwick Playhouse, where the company is based, was turned down.

Since then staff have been applying for funds to keep the rural touring group going.

But with its biggest tour due to kick off this summer all hopes are pinned on the next bid.

However NTC and its trustees have said that they will try to continue at all costs.

The company is due to stage Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has been booked by a record 54 venues in and outside the county, with some outdoor performances.

NTC has applied for strategic touring funding from the Arts Council, the result of which will be announced on April 30. This will determine whether the tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream goes ahead, and may ultimately decide the company’s future.

Trustee Roy Todd said: “This is an extremely important bid.

“It is Arts Council money specifically directed towards touring theatre and that’s what NTC do. The criteria from the Arts Council looks as though it is absolutely right for the sort of work NTC do.

“We have got this project lined up and it is important that NTC succeeds with this bid.

“If it doesn’t go ahead then I don’t know what the answer will be. All I can say is that both the board and the staff are determined to try to carry on at all costs. We all have a great deal of determination.”

Gillian Hambleton, artistic director at NTC, said: “We had 42 venues book up within 14 days, so the demand for our product is definitely there, it’s just a shame this hasn’t been recognised with regular funding. We would be devastated if NTC came to an end, and I think the rural communities we visit would also feel a great loss, but at the same time we want to maintain the high quality of theatre that we have a reputation for.

“We will be in limbo until the result of our bid comes through at the end of April. There may be tough times ahead for NTC but we are extremely grateful for all of the help and support we have received so far, and we’re not ready to give up the fight just yet.”

Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick, who worked with NTC early in her acting career, said: “I had the privilege of working with NTC in Country Voices when I was trying to establish a career for myself as an actress.

“NTC has made a massive contribution not only to culturally starved, out-of-sight communities it plays to but also to the development of many performers in our region. Both established and new actors have benefited greatly from NTC’s role as an employer.

“Their support of burgeoning young talent in actors’ apprenticeship opportunities is progressive and unprecedented.

“Many of us would not have been able to commence, let alone continue, without the commitment and encouragement provided by this dedicated company. Gillian and NTC are a vital component in the delicate cultural eco-system of our fruitful yet hungry region.

“I am eternally grateful for the part they played in helping me develop my career as an actor, and as an ambassador for my beloved North East. ”

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