Norfolk arts organisations wait to hear about funding cuts

Baby disco dance hall in the Spiegeltent at Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Photo: Bill Smith

Baby disco dance hall in the Spiegeltent at Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Photo: Bill Smith

Cultural organisations are waiting to hear how they will be affected by Norfolk County Council's decision to cut funding. Arts correspondent Emma Knights reports.

Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime - Peter Pan. Kevin Kennedy as Captain Hook with Ruth Betteridge as W

Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime - Peter Pan. Kevin Kennedy as Captain Hook with Ruth Betteridge as Wendy Darling and John and Michael Darling - Credit: Norwich Theatre Royal

Following Norfolk County Council's decision to cut its arts funding by £150,000, many arts organisations across the county are now waiting to hear how they specifically will be affected.

The decision to significantly reduce cultural funding was made at the council's meeting to set its 2015/16 budget on Monday, when the authority also cut funding in other areas in a bid to make savings.

In total, the authority's arts funding pot for the next financial year will be £85,000.

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival is expecting to be the worst hit arts organisation - but has said this year's May arts extravaganza will go ahead as planned.

The Garage celebrate their 10th birthday with a party and performances including Pulse Dance Company

The Garage celebrate their 10th birthday with a party and performances including Pulse Dance Company, for guests and supporters. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk


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As previously reported, in the current financial year the festival received £83,400 from the county council but it believes that in 2015/16 it could be given just £6,700.

William Galinsky, the festival's artistic director, said: 'We are aware that the budget approved by the county council includes the proposed £150,000 of cuts to the arts budget. The festival has not yet been made aware of the precise level of its own cut from the county. We are committed to presenting the 2015 festival as planned and are working through potential implications and alternative solutions for our 2016 festival.'

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Meanwhile at Norwich Theatre Royal - which for 2014/15 received £23,860 from the county council - the venue's chief executive Peter Wilson said: 'The message in general is that the cuts are not as bad as we [the arts community] feared. They are worse than we had hoped. In terms of the Theatre Royal we look forward to hearing whether we are still on the council's books and to working with our colleagues in the arts world to minimise the effect of these considerable cuts.'

Sheringham Little Theatre - which has an approximate annual turnover of about £500,000 - received just under £5,000 from the county council in 2014/15.

Sheringham Little Theatre theatre director Debbie Thompson. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY.

Sheringham Little Theatre theatre director Debbie Thompson. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY. - Credit: Archant

While this equates to just 1pc of the theatre's turnover, the theatre's director Debbie Thompson said the county council funding was vital.

'It helps to attract other arts funding as well. It is like a mark of approval,' she said.

'Also the funding is core funding and not for specific projects, and core funding is very hard to attract.'

She said the theatre did not yet know how big a funding cut it was facing but that it was prepared.

'The thing is it is difficult for everybody. The council has had to make some horrible cuts across services, not just the arts.

'It is very sad that the arts has taken a cut because in real terms it is such a small investment and the returns are huge.'

Darren Grice, chief executive of Norwich arts venue The Garage, said: 'The reduction of funding for arts will affect us all. 'We as a sector are keen to work with the county council and other funding bodies to develop strategies that will help to protect Norfolk's amazing but fragile arts offer in this extremely challenging financial climate.'

The Garage received £15,611 of funding from Norfolk County Council for the financial year 2014/15.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said council officers were still working on the final allocations for the 2015/16 arts grants and that it was hoped this would be completed in the next month or so.

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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