Barking council offers Broadway theatre temporary reprieve

Natalie Woolman

Barking’s Broadway Theatre has been granted a stay of execution, after its local council decided to weigh up the venue’s options instead of cutting all support at the end of this month as planned.

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham had intended to terminate its grant to the Broadway on March 31. The theatre has already taken on a £100,000 cut to its £431,000 annual grant from the council in 2011/12.

The Broadway is the only professional performing venue in the borough and its artistic director Karena Johnson said all professional work would have to be axed if the cut went ahead.

When The Stage reported that the council was considering ending its subsidy to the theatre at the end of last year, there was an outcry from playwrights including Van Badham who called the decision “heartbreaking”. Others who condemned the plans included playwright David Eldridge and Young Vic artistic director David Lan.

Barking and Dagenham council has now issued a statement jointly with the theatre saying that it is “committed to keep the theatre open to ensure key elements of the programme like the youth theatre and annual pantomime will continue”.

In partnership with Barking and Dagenham College, which uses the Broadway as a base for its performing arts department, the council has commissioned an independent options appraisal for the future operation of the Broadway. As a result, the council, college and Arts Council England will all continue funding at current levels until the end of July.

The statement continues: “The council and the Broadway recognise the importance of having a theatre in the borough. It provides a boost to the night-time economy and the regeneration of Barking town centre as well as providing opportunities for residents to enjoy and participate in the arts.”

The Broadway is an ACE national portfolio organisation and a spokesman for the arts council said the new arrangement would allow time for an assessment of the options available.

Councils invest in theatres, page 6

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