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Edward Hall: Propeller's future 'called into question' by ACE funding withdrawal

The all-male Shakespeare company lost its NPO status today

"Propeller's national reach and quality of work cannot be called into question" - Edward Hall

Propeller's artistic director Edward Hall has said the all-male Shakespeare company's future is now in doubt, following news that Arts Council England (ACE) has withdrawn its National Portfolio funding.

The company was one of 58 organisations to lost NPO status today in ACE's latest round of cuts. Others included the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond and touring company Red Ladder.

Propeller, which was founded by Hall in 1997 at the Watermill in Newbury, has produced award-winning productions of Shakespeare plays using all-male ensembles. It has toured to 22 countries over the last three years and has performed to over 95,000 people.

Hall said:

"Despite this extraordinary record on the national and international touring circuit bringing Shakespeare to thousands of people in the regions and beyond, Propeller has been turned down for funding from ACE. This prevents the company from forward planning and calls into question the future.

"ACE have told us: 'We decided that, taking into account the quality and level of your artform provision available nationally, we preferred other applications.'

"Whilst a lack of commitment from ACE to high quality touring theatre on a financial basis is perhaps understandable, Propeller's national reach and quality of work cannot be called into question as our track record amply demonstrates. I am sorry that this decision will prevent us from continuing to pursue our national touring programme which has delighted so many thousands of people and which will prevent our company from pursuing its commitment to delivering affordable, high quality drama in the regions."

Hall is also artistic director of the Hampstead Theatre, which has retained its status as an NPO organisation. He told WhatsOnStage recently, regarding the NPO decision: "I'm concerned, like everybody's concerned, because you don't get money if there isn't any funding - it doesn't matter how good your work is.

"That's the problem, the money is dwindling, so none of us should be apathetic. You don't lose your grant because you don't deserve it, you lose it because there isn't enough money, so in that sense it's a lottery."