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Orange Tree Theatre spurns Arts Council funding process

Orange Tree artistic director Paul Miller. Photo: Richard Davenport
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The Orange Tree Theatre has confirmed it is not applying to return to Arts Council England’s portfolio after being dropped from it in 2014.

The Richmond venue was the most high-profile casualty of ACE’s last national portfolio announcement, in July 2014, when it lost its entire £380,000 annual subsidy from the funding body.

Applications are now open for the next funding period, which runs from 2018 to 2022. However, the Orange Tree has claimed that further tightening of the public purse and changes to the theatre’s own spending has led it to decide not to apply.

“ACE’s national priority is to ensure that any new money is invested outside of London, while the portfolio must also now include libraries and museums. Having taken stock of our specific situation, and understanding these pressures on the public purse, we have taken the decision not to submit an NPO application for the 2018-22 period,” a statement said.

The statement from artistic director Paul Miller, executive director Sarah Nicholson and chairman Richard Humphreys added that since ceasing to receive annual ACE funding, the organisation had cut core costs significantly and now works from a new producing model that includes collaborating with other regional venues.

It went on to say that the company’s business plan for the next three years includes a target of 25% fundraised income, with box office only able to contribute a maximum of 70%.

“We are confident in the robustness of our business plan over the next three years, yet we want to emphasise that its success is reliant on the increasing support of our funders and our audiences. Our fundraising strategy involves a diverse mix of individual donations, memberships, grant support (from trusts and foundations), business sponsorship and legacies,” the statement said.

The Orange Tree has since received funding from ACE. It was the recipient of a Catalyst: Evolve fundraising investment last year.

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