Staffordshire’s New Vic Theatre is bracing itself for a 100% cut in funding from its local council.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has proposed to reduce the venue’s current annual grant of £67,500 by £23,000 in each of the next three financial years, meaning its funding for the theatre will have ceased completely by 2016/17.
Councillor Mark Meredith, the cabinet member for economic development, said the local authority was “exploring ways to continue to support the New Vic Theatre”, but warned that the council’s support “cannot be at the same level that we have previously been able to provide”.
He said: “We are faced with a second year of incredibly tough budget pressures imposed on the authority by central government, and unfortunately we have a finite amount of resources.”
The New Vic currently receives funding from two other local authorities – Staffordshire County Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council – as well as money from Arts Council England.
ACE’s funding – which will be £948,350 in 2013/14 and £973,007 in 2015/16 – is given to the theatre partly in recognition of the work it does with young people and community groups.
However, there is concern that losing the city council funding could impact on ACE’s level of support for the venue in the future.
According to local paper The Sentinel, a report given to councillors at a recent meeting stated: “Withdrawing the grant in totality may leave the New Vic in a vulnerable position with other funding bodies. The theatre is managed by an independent charitable company and relies on council grants to lever the majority of its funding from ACE.”
Despite the threat of a complete funding cut from the city council – which follows on from a 10% reduction to its funding in 2012 – Fiona Wallace, executive director at the New Vic, has remained positive about the venue’s future and its relationship with the local authority.
She described Stoke-on-Trent as being “among the most deprived areas in the country”, but said the city council was “a great supporter of the New Vic” and recognised that the “theatre makes a real difference to the lives of local people”.
“We will continue talking to them to see how we can work together to attract investment into North Staffordshire and to provide a world-class service for residents,” she said.
Staffordshire County Council has pledged to support the theatre with £189,000 over the next three years.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has provided £97,620 to the venue annually for the last two years, but a spokeswoman for the authority said it had not yet been decided how much the New Vic will receive in 2013/14. The council’s budget will be finalised in February.