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City winners and losers for arts cash

Bad news for Spike Theatre and Urban Strawberry Lunch. Big gains for Pagoda Orchestra and general sigh of relief

Published on April 4th 2011.

City winners and losers for arts cash

SPIKE THEATRE, Urban Strawberry Lunch and Fuse Theatre for Young People (formerly Merseyside Young People's Theatre Comany) are among those Liverpool groups who have been severely hit in the Arts Council England’s new National portfolio of funded organisations.

If we cannot find a way to continue without investment beyond 2012 we feel the theatre ecology of the North West will be the poorer for it

The award winning Spike, and educational/performance drummers USL, who also run the St Luke's bombed church, were last night formulating desperate survival plans after having their funding pulled completely from 2012.Elsewhere, theatres, galleries and other arts organisations in the North West will be receiving just under £77 million in funding over three years till 2015, with Liverpool's Chinese Pagoda Youth Orchestra, the Writing on the Wall Festival and Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival celebrating big gains.

It follows the Arts Council’s decision to introduce a new funding framework after losing £100m from its budget and a 10-year strategic framework for the arts in England.

Organisations had to reapply for financial support, but, said an ACE North West spokesman, of those who will no longer be funded, a fair percentage did not actually reapply.

In the North West, There will be 85 National Portfolio organisations, replacing the existing 109 supported through the regularly funded organisations programme.

Fewer organisations will be funded, say ACE, but, “set in the context of the Arts Council’s 10-year vision for the arts, the aim is to fund organisations who will get great art to even more people and work collaboratively to make the most of the available funds”.

The Biennial, FACT, Open Eye and the Unity Theatre were among those breathing a sigh of relief in the city. Liverpool’s DaDa Fest will receive an 11 per cent increase in its £162,500 grant from next year, while Collective Encounters, which works with communities in north Liverpool, will see a 60 per cent hike.

Arabic Arts and The Writing on the Wall festivals enter the frame for the first time with a big grants.

Festival Director Madeline Heneghan said: "We are delighted to have received this extra funding and support, particularly in the context of the extreme cuts Arts Council England has been forced to implement. This will allow us to strengthen our capacity and launch a number of new initiatives, including employing a writer in residence, which will support our work among young people and in developing and publishing new writing."

Hope Street Limited is another big winner with a 94 per cent rise in grants; the North West’s photography network, Redeye, and the Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra, particularly, will all have reason to celebrate, with the latter getting a 123 per cent rise in its allocation. Walk the Plank, which organises events throughout the North West, will undoubtedly be walking on air with 148 per cent increase in aid.

The Everyman and Playhouse sees a modest 4 per cent cut, while the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s grant will be cut by between 6.9 pc and 2.3 pc over the three years. This follows the knock it has already taken in funding cuts from Liverpool City Council making the real term pinch more like 11 per cent.

Spike says ACE’s reason for pulling the rug is down to “serious concerns about the company’s financial sustainability”.

It places the company’s proposed programme of work beyond March 2012 in jeopardy, it says.

Artistic Director Mark Smith added: “It is galling that our current level of funding has contributed to our struggle for sustainability and that Arts Council’s low level of past investment has damaged our case for future funding.

"We are working with our board to alter our strategy and business plan to accommodate this loss but this may not be possible in the current financial climate. If we cannot find a way to continue without investment beyond 2012 we feel the theatre ecology of the North West will be the poorer for it.”

Meanwhile, Liz Carlisle, who runs Urban Strawberry Lunch with Ambrose Reynolds, on a relatively peanuts sum from ACE of £40,000 annually, told Liverpool Confidential: "A loss of £40K per year in 12 months is massive, especially as many of our traditional clients at USL are also funded by local authorities. So there's an extra blow in that they can't afford to book us, meaning even the prospect of trading our way out the situation becomes more difficult.

"Really it's early days right now. we've got to get together with the board and formulate a strong plan which includes applying for additional lottery funds and the like, as well as the possibility of public campaigns.

She added: "We're in the same boat as lots of organisations and we're all going to be tapping the same people for the same money alongside the people who are funded by ACE and therefore, possibly, in a stronger position to attract funds.

"So from here who knows. Lots of drum banging. Literally. If only to alleviate the stress."

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LottoWinnerMarch 31st 2011.

Until recenly we had the Dream Number as party of the lottery with the funds raised allocated to the 2012 Olympics. Why not re-introduce the Dream Number, but instead use the money raised sub-regionally to fund arts and culture. It would mean any Dream number ticket bought in, say, Liverpool City Region, being used for arts and culture in or around Liverpool. This would ensuring the money was not creamed off by the big London arty snobs. I think a lot of people (including me) would support Dream Number in the knowledge we were supporting local groups.

Territorial Army manApril 1st 2011.

Doesn't the Royal Court get buckets of public money from it's deal to run the festival of comedy, and isn't that why all the other comedy venues in the city are excluded from it?

By the way, what's been on at the Royal Court since Christmas? And what's coming up?

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