Theatre in Wales

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ACE Gives Big Increases to Chichester, NT, Donmar     

The National Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Chichester Festival Theatre, Riverside Studios and the Royal Opera House are amongst the big winners in the new three-year spending plans for the Arts Council England, the country's development agency for the arts which has responsibility for distributing public money from Government and the National Lottery.

The freshness and detailed plans of new artistic directorships at Chichester, the Donmar and the National were cited as reasons for those theatres' dramatic increases of 84.6%, 34% and 16.5%, respectively. With its new funding, the National (pictured) surges ahead the UK's other flagship theatre outfit, the Royal Shakespeare Company. The NT's 2003 subsidy of £14.8 million will increase to £17.3 million in 2005/2006.

Meanwhile, the Stratford company has been awarded a comparatively meagre 5.5% increase (the average across all funded organisations being 5.1%), so that in 2005/2006, it's funding will sit, well below the National, at £14 million, despite the fact that it too has a new artistic director in Michael Boyd. The Arts Council seems to be adopting a wait-and-see approach to Boyd's effectiveness. For this year, the RSC will have just a 4% increase followed by annual "standard uplifts as it develops new ways of working and partnerships".

Impressed by the diversity of its programming, the Arts Council awarded London's Riverside Studios a whopping 195% increase in funding. The Royal Opera House sees its funding increase by 14% to £24.9 million in 2005/2006.

Other major theatrical beneficiaries in London were the Barbican (21%), the newly opened Hampstead Theatre (12%), the Lyric Hammersmith (11%) and the Royal Court (10%). Regionally, significant increases were granted to Birmingham's Drum (65.2%), Sheffield Theatres (39.8%), Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre (37.7%) and the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch (21%), while touring companies such as Frantic Assembly (155%), Pilot (47.9%) and the National Youth Theatre (100%) also benefited.

Overall, across the arts, the new three-year plans see funding growth of some £75 million. The Council says the budget succeeds in prioritising the individual artist, helping arts organisations to "thrive, not just survive", promoting cultural diversity, encouraging young people in the arts and growing the cultural sector.

Commenting on the new budget, Gerry Robinson, Chairman of Arts Council England, said: "The Government recognised the vitality of the arts and responded to the changes we made to the Arts Council with £75 million of new funding. It is our central belief that the arts have the power to transform lives, communities and opportunities for people throughout the country. This budget puts that belief into action."  
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Terri Paddock
Thursday, March 27, 2003back



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