Cardiff Council approves cuts to Sherman Cymru, New Theatre and St David’s Hall

Sherman Cymru, one of the organisations working with the revamped Wales Theatre Awards and critics fund.
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Cardiff Council has confirmed it will remove its entire annual funding to more than 10 arts organisations including venue Sherman Cymru and circus company Nofit State Circus as part of a budget that will save £50 million in 2014/15.

From this April, Sherman Cymru will lose all of its £160,000 grant, while Chapter Arts Centre will also see its £13,000 subsidy removed. Touring theatre company Hijinx Theatre will lose almost £8,000 and Nofit State Circus will no longer be in receipt of its £2,500 annual grant.

At its annual budget meeting yesterday, the local authority also agreed to proposals that could see the running of both the council-managed New Theatre and St David’s Hall outsourced to external operators.

It approved plans to find a new operator for either the New Theatre or St David’s Hall or both by the end September.

The city council has also agreed to introduce transaction fees on tickets, to close the venues for “short, most costly periods where net savings can be made” and to reduce staffing.

Cardiff Council subsidises St David’s Hall with £1.2 million a year and the New Theatre with £800,000. The local authority expects to save around £530,000 through the cost-cutting measures.

Meanwhile, the Welsh proms will have its number of classical concerts reduced. Three major commercial orchestral concerts will be cut, leaving a “last night of the proms concert only” to save the council £30,000.

Clare Williams, executive director of Hijinx Theatre, said: “Cardiff Council’s 100% cut to Hijinx sends a very damaging message to society. Hijinx undertakes pioneering work to train learning disabled actors and creates opportunities for them to perform in professional inclusive theatre productions.

“The council’s cut seems to indicate that the contribution that disabled actors make is of no value. Despite the cut we are determined not to allow any strand of our work to be curtailed or diminished.”

Nick Capaldi, chief executive of Arts Council of Wales, described the cuts as "deeply disappointing".

“We understand the very real pressures that the council faces. But arts and culture contributes so much to the reputation of the city and the wellbeing of its citizens. This is very sad news,” he added.

Sherman Cymru was not available for comment.