As recent funding cuts begin to bite, the Royal Shakespeare Company has announced it will not be bringing a full season of plays to Newcastle this year, for the first time since 1977.

Artistic director Michael Boyd blamed a combination of the recent 6.9% Arts Council funding cut and the demands of opening the redeveloped Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres. He said the company is planning to resume a full programme in Newcastle in 2012.

In a statement, Boyd said: “The RSC is proud of its relationship with Newcastle and the North East, and we very much regret that we are unable to bring a full season of plays to the City this autumn because of pressures on our funding.”

He added that he hoped to bring at least one national touring production as well as a Young People’s Shakespeare production to the city over the course of the next financial year.

However, it means that Newcastle audiences will miss out on this year’s flagship productions, which include Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Marat/Sade.

Philip Bernays, chief executive of the Newcastle Theatre Royal, said: “It is a great shame that we will not be presenting the RSC season this year, but we also understand the pressure of budgetary cuts right now and the necessity to make some compromises in the short term.”

“We know how important the RSC season is to our audiences in the North East (and further afield), as the northern “home” of the RSC, and we eagerly look forward to the exciting performances the company are bringing here in 2012 and beyond.”