DELIGHT, relief, disappointment and despair characterised a day when the future cultural landscape of the North East became clearer.
Arts Council England unveiled its new national portfolio of arts organisations, those guaranteed regular financial support from a diminished funding pool for three years from 2012-13.
It was a list of winners, those successful applicants charged with delivering “great art for everyone” as part of a new 10-year strategy for the arts in England drawn up in the wake of a 30% reduction in the Government’s grant to the Arts Council.
Half of that cut was absorbed by the funding body in redundancies and efficiency savings but 14.9% had to be passed on to arts organisations, meaning 206 of them across the country will no longer be regularly funded.
Under the old system 69 organisations in the North East were regularly funded.
Of the 85 organisations that applied to be part of the national portfolio, 42 were successful, including 10 not regularly supported in the past.
After the winners – the Maltings Theatre & Arts Centre in Berwick, Queen’s Hall Arts in Hexham and Mima in Middlesbrough among them – came the losers.
Of the organisations now on a year’s notice of their funding being withdrawn are 37 which either failed in the bid for national funding or didn’t apply.
For long-established Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) and Newcastle-based Dodgy Clutch, yesterday was a dark day.
Both failed in their bid to join the national portfolio so face an uncertain future.
Alnwick-based NTC, which takes theatre to rural communities, is getting £313,369 in this transitional year but nothing thereafter.
Artistic director Gillian Hambleton was angry, saying: “We put in an incredibly strong application to develop more work with young people and schools and to work collaboratively with Alnwick Playhouse.
“We are devastated because we do very good work and get a very good response from our audiences.”
She said it could mean the end of the InterACT scheme which NTC has run for eight years, providing on-the-job training for young people wanting to make a career in theatre.
Up the road in Berwick, Miles Gregory, artistic director of The Maltings Theatre & Arts Centre, was delighted the Arts Council had backed his vision for the place with the region’s biggest funding increase in percentage terms.
“We think it’s one of the biggest in the country. It’s going to change the arts in Berwick and it’s going to change the way we work forever,” he said.
A venue which struggled financially before Mr Gregory arrived in 2008 will now have greater influence over the arts in the area, taking over the prestigious Berwick Gymnasium arts fellowship.