Northumberland Theatre Company nets £50,000 of funding

A TOURING theatre company which lost its core funding has received a lifeline, securing money for its next production.

Northumberland Theatre Company production of Grimm Tales

A TOURING theatre company which lost its core funding has received a lifeline, securing money for its next production.

The Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC), which has toured productions at village halls in rural areas across the country for the last 34 years, was dealt a major blow in 2011 when Arts Council England withdrew its regular funding.

But the company, based at Alnwick Playhouse, has now secured around £50,000 from the organisation towards the cost of its next production.

Bosses last night revealed the venture is continuing to exist on a “hand-to- mouth” basis with its long-term future still uncertain.

The company applied in September for funding from the council’s Grants for the Arts programme towards the cost of its spring tour of four new plays by four emergent writing talents.

It has now been told it would be awarded around £50,000, towards the cost of two acting trainees and staging the tour. Match funding will have to be found.

Artistic director Gillian Hambleton said: “It is incredibly useful to us at this minute. We lost all our funding as of April, we are still here, we are still going and to be able to do a third tour this financial year will be fantastic. To get the money will be excellent. We would not be able to put it on without it.”

However, she revealed the future for NTC beyond the tour remains up in the air.

A recent bid for Arts Council strategic touring funding to perform Brassed Off around the North East in the autumn was unsuccessful last month.

Bosses had forged links with brass bands and village halls for the production but say they have not given up on sourcing money for it from elsewhere.

Mrs Hambleton said: “It is all hand-to- mouth, it is all hanging by our fingers. We have this money to keep us going to April.

“We are waiting for the outcome of another funding application which we should know in a couple of months’ time. It is all minute to minute, putting in applications and seeing which ones come to fruition.

“It is all very last-minute, it is very difficult to plan which is the worst thing about it. It is very difficult to let our village halls know we are doing something in the autumn.”

Despite the difficult predicament the company finds itself in, Mrs Hambleton is determined to remain upbeat. She said: “We are in a new year, positive frame of mind. We have to take it as it is. We have to keep fighting to do what we want to do, to put on theatre for the audiences.”

A production last year saw theatre-goers donate £1,800 towards NTC’s future while the company’s present tour has brought in £600. Mrs Hambleton said: “That is very gratifying when your audiences want you to continue. We have to keep fighting to create theatre for these audiences. It is really the only theatre you can access when you are up in Kielder.”

 

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