Cash boost for Bristol’s Tobacco Factory

Lalayn Baluch

Bristol theatre the Tobacco Factory has taken its “first step towards financial sustainability”, after being awarded a £55,000 grant from Arts Council England.

The cash was given to the Tobacco Factory Arts Trust only a day after it launched a public appeal to save the venue. It will be used to appoint a new company director to oversee finances, although it is not confirmed whether the role will include any artistic responsibilities.

Helen Palmer, chair of the trust, believes that overseeing both areas of work is “too much for one person”, however, she admitted they only have sufficient funds to make one appointment.

Palmer said: “We want to ensure that someone is in place to look after the financial needs, and run the organisation so we can continue with our artistic work. They will have to be sympathetic to the visual work of the theatre. I don’t want to say that they won’t have a say in the artistic work – things may change over the next few months.”

She told The Stagethat the theatre had been in “jeopardy”, and the grant was the first step towards financial stability. The organisation, which raises 70% of its own income, has also received £10,000 from Bristol City Council. However, a further £50,000 is still required to ensure its survival.

With the imminent closure of the Bristol Old Vic, Palmer believes that securing the long term future of the Tobacco Factory is more important than ever. She added: “At this very difficult time, with the esteemed Bristol Old Vic ‘going dark’ for a period of 18 months, Bristol cannot lose another theatre.”

Earlier this year, the Tobacco Factory was refused a grant by ACE South West when it first applied. Arts council spokesperson Gillian Taylor said: “There were many strong applications and we can’t accept all of them. The competition is so great. In between making applications their plans developed further, and they were able to include information that made it stronger.”

She continued: “We have been talking to the Tobacco Factory for a long time, and the decision does not have any connection with the closure of the Bristol Old Vic. Obviously, we are pleased that we are able to contribute to the culture in Bristol.”

To donate to the Tobacco Factory Arts Trust call 0117 902 0345.

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