Further funding woes for embattled Derby Theatre

Steve Orme

Derby Theatre has suffered another funding blow, with the city council cutting its annual £250,000 contribution as part of £23 million worth of savings it has to make over the next three years.

The announcement comes only a few months after the University of Derby, which runs the former Derby Playhouse, failed to secure funding from Arts Council England.

The city council’s contract to operate the artistic programme at Derby Theatre through its entertainment arm, Derby Live, comes to an end next April. At the same time, the authority’s funding for the building will also end.

Professor John Coyne, vice-chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “I’m very disappointed to hear the news of the withdrawal of this important funding strand for Derby Theatre from the council.

“I can reveal that from April 2012 the new structure at Derby Theatre will see it take the lead responsibility for producing theatre in Derby. Derby Theatre will transfer some existing staff from Derby Live, develop a programme including new creative collaborations and maintain an ongoing relationship with Derby City Council.

“We have also recognised that the theatre’s knowledge and experience need strengthening, and the artistic vision requires development. To help address these issues ACE has offered to provide project funding of £50,000 to Derby Theatre to engage a nationally renowned team of theatre consultants to advise and guide the theatre board and management until April.

“The news of the funding cuts, whilst not being the best, is not terminal.”

A spokesman for ACE said it had set aside funds for theatre in Derby and organisations would be able to apply for them.

“We have been in discussions to organise an Open Space event to generate ideas which may help in developing exciting and innovative ideas for the future of theatre in Derby. We anticipate the event will take place during late autumn,” he added.

Other venues to be affected include the Quad arts centre which will lose £80,000 a year and dance centre Deda which is having its funding of £25,000 a year withdrawn. The council expects them to become self-sufficient.

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