Fife Byre grant slashed in Scottish funding shake-up

Nuala Calvi

Byre Theatre in Fife is to have its annual grant cut by two thirds, as part of the Scottish Arts Council’s ongoing upheaval of arts funding in the country.

The reduction, from £454,371 a year to £150,000, means that the venue will be unable to deliver in-house productions for the first time in its 73-year history and, as of April, will be run largely as a receiving house.

Its management team will be significantly restructured, with an executive director brought in to lead programming and business management and the post of artistic director scrapped after Stephen Wrentmore’s contract finishes next March. Seven permanent members of staff will lose their jobs.

Managing director Tom Gardner told The Stage: “The arts council have taken the view that because we’re 14 miles from Dundee Rep, which they are supporting heavily, they are already addressing the needs of the region. That fails to reflect the cultural reality of Fife as an area. Fife has a strong cultural identity and the Byre has been the only producing theatre here for a long time.”

Gardner said he hoped the theatre could still take part in co-productions and that he hoped to expand its education and outreach work.

SAC has given the Byre a one-off payment of £445,000 to eliminate its accumulated debts and help it through the transitional period.

Jim Tough, deputy chief executive director at the arts council, said: “We appreciate that change is difficult and have recognised this by giving substantial additional support to the Byre to address its deficit and to move forward with a new way of working that will provide support for artists and access to work of quality for local audiences.”

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