MAJOR arts venues in Newcastle, including the Theatre Royal, Northern Stage, Tyneside Cinema and Seven Stories, have been warned to brace themselves for a 100% cut in funding from the city council.
This would mean the Theatre Royal, the council’s principal beneficiary, losing more than £500,000 annually.
Acclaimed producing theatres such as Northern Stage and Live Theatre would be hit along with Seven Stories – days after it was granted national status – and Dance City.
The revelation follows news that libraries, swimming pools and playschemes may close as the authority finds £90m of Government-ordered cuts.
Tony Durcan, Newcastle City Council’s director of culture, libraries and lifelong learning, said he had briefed the bosses of 10 cultural organisations which between them receive about £1.5m from the authority.
“We are looking at up to 100% reductions in revenue support to parts of the cultural sector,” he said.
“These are the big players such as the three theatres, Seven Stories, Dance City, the Tyneside Cinema. There are also some smaller organisations such as Globe Gallery and Isis Arts. Rather like I said in the case of the libraries, we’ve got to make these terrific reductions across the whole council over three years, losing a third of our budget.”
He explained there was no statutory obligation to subsidise the arts but added: “That isn’t to say we don’t think they’re important.
“We could lose a lot for a little saving but we have to make every saving we can so that we can protect the vulnerable and deliver our statutory requirements.”
Asked if a large cut would mean any organisation having to close, he said: “We seriously hope not but we don’t know. What we will be doing is meeting with them all individually, along with the Arts Council, to see if there is anything we can offer other than revenue funding.”
Last night Philip Bernays, chief executive of the Theatre Royal, was preparing to brief staff about the implications of proposed cuts which will be revealed by the council next week.