Bosses at Theatre Royal consider funding options after losing out on £114,000 a year from Arts Council

Karen Simpson, director of the Theatre Royal
Karen Simpson, director of the Theatre Royal
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Bosses at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds have pledged to explore alternative funding opportunities and engage with younger generations after losing out on £114,000 a year from the Arts Council.

The money from the council’s National Portfolio Organisation pot represents eight per cent of the venue’s total income - a fifth of its running costs.

The funding for the country’s sole surviving regency playhouse would have been for three years from April 2015.

Karen Simpson, director at the Theatre Royal, said she was ‘hugely disappointed’ at the move but said they will explore other streams of funding from the Arts Council to realise their creative plans which includes working with young people.

She said: “Any cut is difficult and I don’t think any organisation would say differently. It represents eight per cent of our income - that’s quite a lot less than other arts organisations or companies in the region.

“We’ve huge support from individuals, businesses, St Edmundsbury Borough and Suffolk County Councils. The priority will be working with them to look at how we move forward. Obviously we need to explore these discussions with Arts Council about new ways we might benefit in realising some of our creative plans.”

She said the plans include ‘creating more work from the theatre, a real priority with families and children and ensuring young people are introduced to high quality theatre which is an area Arts Council is interested in’. Ms Simpson added they will build on a recently formed partnership with West Suffolk College and continue as a touring company.

Asked why she thought they had not received the funding, she said: “The theatre has been through a number of really quite difficult years. When I started there was an awful lot to sort out. In reality I think what’s happened is we’ve just not quite had enough time to prove the theatre’s turned around. We’ve had three months to do what other companies had to prove in three years.”

An Arts Council spokesman said other applications were felt to make a ‘stronger contribution’ to their goals. He said they will now discuss the theatre’s future plans and explore other options that may be available.