The Show Goes on at the NorthcottDate: 16 March 2010
Exeter's Northcott Theatre has been saved from immediate closure and will complete most of its planned performances - although its long term future is still to be secured.
Arts Council England (ACE) has announced that it will provide an extra £100,000 to enable it to complete most of its spring programme, with only the in-house production Whipping It Up likely to be cancelled.
The Arts Council, Exeter City Council and the University of Exeter, which owns the theatre building, have held talks with administrators now running the theatre and a longer term plan will need to be developed to safeguard its future.
ACE South West executive director Chris Humphrey said: "We are pleased to have enabled the majority of the Northcott's spring programme to go ahead and that audiences will not be disappointed.
"We considered our funding very carefully in the light of the theatre's current financial problems and have concluded further investment now will help to secure the future of the Northcott. We will continue to work closely with the other stakeholders to determine the best way forward for the theatre and we look forward to seeing their plans for the new company and vision."
He added: "It is good to know we are all committed to finding ways to ensure excellent theatre in all its forms will be available for the audiences of Exeter and further a field."
The Northcott, having undergone a £2.1 million redevelopment, first faced the prospect of closure in 2007, when the Arts Council announced it was to withdraw its annual £547,000 grant to the venue as part of the 2007 spending review. This decision was revised in 2008, but the venue suffered the loss of long-serving artistic director Ben Crocker when he left the venue and a new senior management team was brought in. Kate Tyrell, the new chief executive announced a cost saving restructuring of the organisation and several redundancies were made.
However, financial troubles continued, and last month the board stated that it had "no choice" but to place the theatre into administration (See News, 25 Feb 2010). Ian Walker, from Begbies Traynor, was appointed in February after it emerged that the regional producing venue was trading with a significant deficit, thought to be "several hundred thousand pounds".
Commenting on the latest developments in this long running saga, Walker says: "I am delighted that we and the stakeholders have managed to put the case successfully to Arts Council England for funding to secure the Northcott's immediate future.
"I am confident that the ideas which are being considered for a new way to proceed longer term, and the lessons which will have been learned from this administration, have the potential to secure a healthy and fulfilling future for this fine regional theatre."