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Council Intends to Reduce Funding for the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 12 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 13 Nov, 2013
The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Funding the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre at current levels is  ‘inappropriate’ according to a Guildford Borough Council (GBC) report. But it has been decided to continue to give the £310,000 subsidy for the next two years ‘as an exception’.

The council report, titled ‘Review of grants to voluntary and community organisations’, says: “We have agreed to provide grant funding of £310,220 to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in the current financial year and next.

“We consider that the continuation of this level of grant is inappropriate in the current financial climate and entirely disproportionate to the funding we provide to other external organisations. However, we recognise that a substantial reduction of this funding over a short timescale is likely to cause financial difficulties for the Theatre and consider that we should treat it as an exception.

“We recommend that the council should plan to continue providing tapering grant support, the details of which we have still to work out and consider, with a view to the Theatre becoming more self-sustaining. We would expect to work with them to help them achieve this.”

When the above paragraphs of the public document were pointed out to managers at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre a spokesperson said:  “Our relationship with Guildford Borough Council has always been an excellent one, and the borough’s investment in Guildford’s theatre over many decades and its current funding has been, and continues to be, vital to the Yvonne Arnaud’s existence.

“The theatre has already had a reduction in its grant from Guildford Borough Council and any further reduction of any significance at all would have extremely serious repercussions.

“The theatre does its very best to ‘help itself’.  Each year it raises an average of £312,000  through the generous support of the local business community and private individuals.  This, linked with Guildford Borough Council’s funding, is an essential partnership and one for which we are extremely grateful.”

Kevin O’Keeffe. a Guildford resident and ‘Friend’ of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, said: “Guildford is a town with a very special ambiance and the River, the Yvonne Arnaud  (YA) and the University play important roles in preserving this. The YA has over the years given residents a mix of drama, comedy and high culture, which is not provided by the Electric Theatre or  G Live.

“Maintaining an excellent theatre helps hi-tech companies to attract intelligent staff and will help to keep Guildford from becoming just another commuting and shopping centre. With the internet challenging conventional retailing, GBC should seek to support any activity which gives the town a magnetic character.”

Cllr Gordon Jackson

Cllr Gordon Jackson

Cllr Gordon Jackson (Con, Pirbright), who has recently taken over from Cllr Jen Powell as the lead member for tourism, said: “…the main point is that that the YAT has got its funding agreed for two years – this is exceptional compared to the case of every other grant recipient which is only for the year of application. This report… is concerned with an administrative change to the way in which the grants pot is administered.

“These comments are in the context of a report organising the grants pot available to a large number of individuals and organisations. Those recipients of grant every year are being taken out of the grants process and put on service level agreements (SLA).

“The YAT is also exceptional in this case, but an SLA is not really appropriate. What is needed in the theatre’s case is an ongoing relationship between theatre management and GBC to determine how the grant needed from GBC can be managed. That is exactly what has happened in the past and will continue to happen.

“As the theatre management has indicated, we enjoy an extremely good relationship with them and recognise the contribution that the widespread activities of the Theatre Trust makes to the community as a whole.”

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Responses to Council Intends to Reduce Funding for the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    November 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

    This theatre is a regional centre of excellence providing ‘classic’ live entertainment for all generations and from an extremely wide catchment area. The Duck House brought people up from Winchester. Surely there is a case for Sussex, Berkshire and Hampshire councils to put their hands in their pockets as well as GBC considering they are part of the theatres catchment area?

    We need this venue for all the positive adjectives both ancient and modern you can think of: Gay, Bright, Hot, Cool, Educational, Entertaining, Laughter, Classic, Hip, Amusing, ‘a meeting of minds’ the list is really endless…

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    November 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Why do theatres expect councils to keep bailing them out when no one else gets funding?

    The problem is that the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre’s seating capacity is too small to cover costs. As the theatre goers are well off they can afford pay more for their seats. They never worry about the prices when buying their drinks or the meals.

    At a time when the council are making cuts to services everywhere, especially those that effect elderly and children, it is wrong to keep bailing theatres out. They are luxury entertainment for the rich.

    How many people who go to this theatre actually live in the borough? Very few. Guildford Borough Council should use this money for the people of Guildford and keep essential services going.

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