Leeds theatre company vows to fight on despite funds loss

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A LEEDS theatre company says it will continue to survive despite a massive blow after losing out on funding in the latest Arts Council grants.

More Than £100 million is to be distributed to arts organisations across Yorkshire, in the latest round of Arts Council England funding.

But for Red Ladder Theatre Company, formed 46 years ago, it has received a 100 per cent funding cut.

Artistic director Rod Dixon said: “We are bitterly, bitterly disappointed – but this is not the end for Red Ladder. It is reduction in funding from £162,000 in financial year 2014/2015 to zero.”

Arts Council England said today: “Across Yorkshire a total of £102,426,970 National portfolio funding over three years from April 2015, will be awarded to 75 organisations.”

Organisations to gain in Leeds include increased investment Northern Ballet Theatre of £1.3m for 2015-16 and funds to establish a national dance hub in Leeds, with funding for Phoenix Dance, RJC Productions and Balbir Singh Dance Company.

Opera North will get an extra £714,500, taking it to £10.4m, because its business model was “under considerable stress.

World class organisations including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth, Wakefield will get sustained investment and the YSP gets an additional award of £1.7m from the Arts Council’s large-scale capital programme to enable it to provide a new gallery space dedicated to the work of Henry Moore.

Oakwell Hall in Birstall has funding of £257,299 to maximise the potential for the hall and country park.

Leeds based theatre comapnay Slung Low is to receive £100,816 to improve its Holbeck base. Alan Low said: “It will be used to continue our programme of free large scale theatre adventures in the city and to make our roof waterproof.”

Leeds-based Peepal Tree Press, home of Caribbean and Black British fiction, poetry, literary criticism, memoirs and historical studies, and The Writing Squad, a development agency for young writers living, working or studying in the North of England.

While many are delighted with the boost, others feel they have lost out with Leeds based Red Ladder Theatre company saying it has received a 100 per cent funding cut.

They received £162,000 last year and must now survive on just £5,000 from leeds City Council.

Red Ladder’s Rod Dixon added: “We put in what we believed was a hugely exciting programme of work to 2018, and it is disappointing to know that those plans will not now come to fruition, at least not in the form we envisaged.

“What we do know is that we cannot and will not see this decision as a vote of no confidence, and that we will find a way to continue through our own passion and dedication to making theatre that represents the dispossessed, tells stories of the injustices of our world and changes lives. We have an army of twitter followers, friends, supporters and fans and we will survive this.”

Red Ladder champions new writing, particularly that which challenges or agitates. It is a radical theatre company with 46 years of history; acknowledged as one of Britain’s leading national touring companies producing high quality theatre contributing to social change and global justice.

Founded in 1968 in London, the company’s history is rooted in the radical socialist theatre movement in Britain known as agitprop. The company moved to Leeds in the Seventies and is still based in the city.

The English National Opera has had its annual funding cut by 29 per cent by Arts Council England, as part of a shake-up of how arts funding is distributed.

Some 670 arts, music and other cultural bodies in England are sharing the annual grants totalling £340m per year.

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