The Rose Theatre in Kingston has warned that it faces a “profound risk” of closure following the planned withdrawal of funding from the local council.
Kingston council plans to cease its £265,000 annual funding to the theatre, founded by Peter Hall 11 years ago, by 2022. It said the move was needed at a time when it faces cuts to its own budget.
In a letter to the local authority, theatre chairman Chris Foy said the move “creates a risk to its sustainability”.
“This flight to zero support for the Rose was a great shock, because there had been no prior consultation on the matter with the theatre,” he claimed, adding that the council’s funding has been “a fundamental component in sustaining the charity’s existence over the 10 years of its life”.
“Your intention to abandon the Rose could only be viewed as severely damaging to the Rose’s viability,” he said.
He warned that the lack of financial support from 2022 “creates unequivocally a profound risk to its resilience and sustainability”.
Foy said the council had “no idea how damaging your plans will be, to the theatre and to all those (particularly children and young people) who benefit directly from the support you provide”.
He added that the council’s investment provides a “boost to the local economy many times larger”.
“The sustainability of the Rose as a great theatre should remain an endeavour of concern to the council, meriting significant support amongst the broad range of fundamental activities and provisions by which a civilised community is known,” he said.
The theatre said its funding comes from ticket sales, sponsorship funding and financial support from the council and Kingston University.
A spokesperson for Kingston Council said it continued to be “a major supporter of the Rose Theatre since it was founded 10 years ago”.
“Over that period, the council has invested over £7.5 million in the theatre. For this financial year, we will provide £265,000. At a time when our budgets have been significantly cut, we need to prioritise how we spend the money available to us, in particular on vital social care services to the borough’s most vulnerable residents,” he said.
He added: “The council plans to reduce its annual funding to the theatre over the next three years in a phased approach to enable us to to work with the board to explore other funding models.”