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Drastic Cuts for Yorkshire's Red Ladder

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Leeds-based radical theatre company Red Ladder Theatre Company has received news of cuts to its Arts Council funding which will represent a loss of £93,000 in the 2012/13 financial year.

Despite this forty percent cut, the company will retain its position within the National Portfolio; a list of 695 organisations who will continue to receive regular Arts Council funding from April 2012.

In terms of output, this financial reduction – the largest percentage cut to an arts organisation in the Yorkshire region – will result in fewer productions being staged annually by Red Ladder. For example, plans to stage a community play telling the story of Leeds trade unionist and socialist Tom Maguire have been brought to a halt.

Not only will creative output be restricted to one or two productions per year; the cuts represent reduced working in terms of outreach, educational development, performance training, and core running costs including staff employment.

Red Ladder’s Artistic Director Rod Dixon stated that the company were fortunate that in the current climate they were still thriving, alongside other creative counterparts who have been cut completely. He said “We now have to go back to the drawing board and look at what we can realistically produce that is of high quality. This decision will mean redundancies and it will mean smaller casts.”

However important the large-scale productions and preservation of jobs internally is to the company, Rod Dixon underlines that Red Ladder's key objective is to drive towards social influence and change, and that this must not be compromised in any way, regardless of income. He states: “Our challenge now, importantly, is to find a way to continue our work onstage, but also our outreach work, our education work and our community work, because it is the loss of this work which will impact most greatly on the whole arts culture, the arts ecology of our area and of our future.”

Rod Dixon is aware, however, of the challenging times ahead for Red Ladder and the difficulties of maintaining quality and purpose within reduced financial means; “...At this time I just don’t know if that will be possible.”


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