Fringe Box



GBC Has No Choice On Cuts to Yvonne Arnaud Funding, says Council Leader

Published on: 26 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 26 Jan, 2022

The ghost light positioned on the stage at the Yvonne Arnaud to “maintain the faith” during the first Covid lockdown.

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre will have its council funding cut by tens of thousands of pounds every year until 2025.

The Guildford Borough Council Executive last night (January 25) agreed to a phased reduction in the theatre’s funding from its current £310,220 per year to £200,000 by 2024/25.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Council Leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Christchurch) called the decision a “painful process”, both for the council and for its partners, but said the borough council was not asking any organisation to undertake changes that the council itself had not already made.

The theatre, which before the pandemic was visited by an average 130,000 people a year, opened in 1965 and produces shows as well as working with the community on outreach and education projects,

Cllr Bigmore said: “We highly value the work the Yvonne Arnaud does in the community and they are worthy of continued support, but unfortunately it can’t be at the same level as in previous years.

“We’ve done everything we can to try and protect our discretionary spending, unfortunately, there is no longer a choice.”

How much money will the Yvonne Arnaud receive from the council?

The phased reduction of the yearly grant funding will see a reduction in the amounts given to the theatre go from £310,220 to £273,000 in 2022/23, £236,500 in 2023/24 and to £200,000 in 2024/25.

This reduction amounts to a 23.7 per cent cut in funding compared to if current levels stayed the same.

Cllr Bigmore said the theatre had received more than £1 million in Covid support grants and an independent credit check had shown it be in a “sound financial position”.

Speaking before the meeting, the theatre’s director and chief executive said the funding from the council was the “bedrock” of the theatre’s financial stability and had allowed the theatre to stay open over the last few years.

A ‘jewel in the crown’ of Guildford

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty (GGG, Shalford) questioned the timing of a residents’ survey that had gone out, which showed arts and culture as a low priority for the residents surveyed.

He asked, since it was done during a time of Covid, if people may have had other things on their minds, which could have caused the arts to fall down the priority.

He said: “I understand we need to make some cuts. But I do feel that as we are going for city status, the Yvonne Arnaud is a jewel in the crown of Guildford.

“I can understand we need to make savings, but if we are then I think we need to work closely with them to ensure that they’re comfortable, that we can help bring in funding that might be available from other sources and work with them to get that.”

Please check back for YAT’s reaction.

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