Birmingham Rep ‘seriously threatened’ by 30% cut

Birmingham Repertory Theatre Birmingham Repertory Theatre
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Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s council funding is to be cut by 29%, in a move that the venue said could seriously threaten its output.

The cut comes as Birmingham City Council agreed to slash its culture budget by 25% – the city’s third major funding cut in five years.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre said that reducing its local authority subsidy by £205,000 could inhibit its ability to produce high-quality theatre year-round.

The latest announcement means that Birmingham Rep has suffered cuts to its local authority grant of 52% since 2010.

Birmingham Rep executive director Stuart Rogers said the theatre was saddened to see its council investment fall further.

“Over the last five years, we have successfully absorbed the city council cuts through a combination of restructuring our operation, fully exploiting the work we produce through tours and commercial transfers of our shows and making our building work as hard as possible through a vibrant programme of events and conferences sitting alongside the artistic work we create,” he said.

He added: “There is a limit to what we can do in these areas, however, and any further reductions in the city’s investment level will seriously threaten our ability to continue to produce a year-round programme of world-class theatre, learning and participation activity and artist development work.”

In a cabinet meeting on December 8, Labour councillor Penny Holbrook confirmed the City Council’s total spending on culture will fall by £1.8 million to £4.85 million in 2016/17.

She said: “It’s not something we particularly want to do but obviously the financial position of the council is clear to everybody.”

She said the council had been engaging with arts organisations across the city over the last 12 months about the impact of potential cuts and to develop future options.

The City Council’s arts budget was reduced by 17% in 2010, which led to half of the organisations it funded at the time losing their revenue grants entirely. The budget was cut by a further 20% in 2013.

Other publicly funded organisations to be hit include Birmingham Royal Ballet and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The recently approved cut is part of the council’s current budget and not part of a future budget consultation, which proposes cutting arts and culture spending by a further £1.25 million between 2017/18 and 2019/20.