Women take arts funding fight straight to the top.

A FIGHT for fairer funding to support the arts in north Northumberland has been taken directly to the Government minister responsible, after a local Women’s Institute decided to put pen to paper.

Alnmouth WI has written to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to highlight the plight of Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC), which will lose its Arts Council grant from next month.

And they are now encouraging other branches of the voluntary organisation in the county to do the same, following a visit and talk given last month by NTC artistic director Gillian Hambleton.

In the letter, Alnmouth president Pam Muggleton said: “Our community is very important to us and we take an active part both in village and area life.

“Mr Cameron’s vision for the Big Society would seem to be very much alive and well in this corner of the UK.

“In such a rural area, where communications are necessarily more limited, one of the organisations we value most highly is the Northumberland Theatre Company whose work in bringing professional theatre to our communities has been, and is, a delight.

“We wish we could show you the company in action.

“It arrives at a venue which could be anywhere from Northumberland or the North of Scotland to South Wales or Sussex and the members of the company set up the equipment and acting area in the village hall, usually without a stage.

“The training programme, InterACT, which has given such valuable apprenticeships to budding actors, has been forced into suspension despite its success rate because of a lack of resources.

“To learn that the theatre group has now lost its entire Arts Council funding, on which it relied heavily, and may be in danger of closing this year has really been devastating.

“We are not unaware of the need for funding cuts and appreciate the impact these will have on many groups.

“We do, however, believe that the Northumberland Theatre Company has very special importance in our rather remote county and certainly does enrich people’s lives in what is, in part, a deprived area.

“In this respect we would like to hope that the Arts Council’s avowed purpose to invest in such artistic and cultural experiences would lead them to reconsider and ask for your support in whatever way possible.”