NPOs that focus on touring and those working with young people were twice as likely to experience cuts in the latest round of funding.
A number of highly respected organisations are left reeling following the announcement last week that their National Portfolio funding will not be renewed for 2015-18. Amongst them are touring organisations Propeller Theatre Company, which will lose almost 20% of its revenue with the loss of its £254k annual grant, and Red Ladder Theatre Company, which will lose out on £160k a year. Propeller Artistic Director Edward Hall said: “This prevents the company from forward planning and calls into question the future.” But they are fighting back. Red Ladder’s Artistic Director Rod Dixon declared: “We have an army of twitter followers, friends, supporters and fans and we will survive this.” The company has launched an online fundraising campaign called #GisATenner that aims to raise the £160k production budget for two UK tours. The @saveredladder Twitter account already has over 1,000 followers. While a petition set up by Propeller to make ACE “reconsider their 100% funding cut” has already received around 2,500 signatures.
A number of other touring organisations will lose their National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status, including Théâtre Sans Frontières, Big Brum and Ridiculusmus Theatre Company. Théâtre Sans Frontières told AP it had “no warning” of the decision to cut its £213k annual grant, which risks leaving “little or no touring theatre coming out of Northumberland”. Playwright Edward Bond called the cut of theatre in education charity Big Brum’s £105k annual grant an “immeasurable debt that society will have to pay”. London-based Ridiculusmus reacted with a degree of stoicism to the loss of its £100k annual grant: “whilst disheartened, we will continue… we are now beginning a dialogue with ACE regarding a Grant for the Arts application that will allow us to deliver our planned projects.”
From next year, NPOs whose work comprises at least 50% touring and certain types of organisations that work with young people will be wholly funded through Lottery, instead of Grant in Aid (GiA). 99 organisations, including big players like Opera North which will receive £10.3m in 2015/16, will split almost £70m of Lottery funds. A fifth of these organisations are enduring cuts – more than double the 9% of GiA-funded NPOs that have had their funding reduced. Independent Theatre Council Chief Charlotte Jones has warned that cutting smaller organisations is “dangerous to the arts sector”, as it will cause the portfolio to become “ever-less diverse” and reduce the potential for engaging hard-to-reach people.
Other organisations that were unsuccessful in reapplying for NPO status include Jazz Services, which uses its £342k annual award to support musicians around the country with touring, production and programming schemes. A spokesperson told AP that ACE’s decision “leaves large portions of the country without provisions for funding and support for grass-roots jazz music”. They are planning to appeal the decision. While Bath Festivals, which was “shocked” by the loss of its £191k annual subsidy, is “seeking the support of our long-standing friends and supporters, volunteers and sponsors to persuade Arts Council England to reconsider their decision”. Some organisations, such as the Academy of Ancient Music, Making Music, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and Dorchester Arts Centre, will also lose NPO status, but are confident that a mixed ecology of funding will ensure their future success.