UK Theatre launches toolkit to tackle local funding crisis

Bath. Photo: Andrew Desmond/Shutterstock Bath, where the local council will no longer fund small project grants for the arts. Photo: Andrew Desmond/Shutterstock
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UK Theatre has released a toolkit to help theatres work with local government, amid ongoing funding cuts.

The Working With Local Authorities ‘resource kit’ includes a members support network, a collection of case studies from organisations working in new and successful ways with local authorities, and a series of blogs.

It collates useful information on working with regional governments, and key local authority figures and experts will be invited to speak at UK Theatre events.

The launch of the project comes following 100% cuts to arts grants in Bath, a £380,000 reduction in arts funding in Bristol, and major cuts in Birmingham.

Hannah Gagen, advocacy manager at UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre, introduced the toolkit in a blog.

She said: “Local authorities remain a major investor in theatre and the performing arts, and the removal of this funding is by far the greatest threat to growth in our sector.

“While local authorities are finding it increasingly hard to maintain support for arts and culture, we’re also seeing many of [our members] explore new ways of working with them to secure this provision for local people.

“Many of you are finding entrepreneurial, proactive and innovative approaches to working alongside councils to keep local theatres going.”

Gagen cited examples of organisations negotiating ways to put theatres at the heart of local strategies, creating consortiums, and running services on behalf of councils. Many of these partnerships were celebrated in the new Hearts for the Arts Awards, which is run by the National Campaign for the Arts and commends local authorities that are protecting the arts.

Gagen added that UK Theatre wants the project to be created by and used by its members to help others facing the same challenges.