Theatre News

Orange Tree loses NPO funding as small companies bear brunt of Arts Council cuts

The Richmond venue is among 58 organisations to lose National Portfolio status today

The Orange Tree
The Orange Tree

Arts Council England (ACE) today announced its investment plans for 2015 to 2018, including the venues and companies that form its 670 regularly-funded National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs).

Among the 58 organisations to lose NPO status today were the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, where Paul Miller recently took over as artistic director following the retirement of Sam Walters.

Reacting to the news today, Miller said the Orange Tree was "deeply disappointed" by the news, but had been warned that the Arts Council was under "extraordinary pressure" to reduce its funding in the capital.

In total there has been a four percent swing in favour of non-London based organisations since 2008; in 2015/16 NPO spending will be 47% in London and 53% outside.

Regarding the Orange Tree's future, Miller added: "We will set about the hard work of hitting ambitious new targets for private fundraising. As we reshape our financial model we will continue to diversify our range of work and continue with plans to refresh the building, making a better offer to audiences old and new."

All-male Shakespeare company Propeller has also lost NPO status today, as has the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, Red Ladder and Ridiculusmus. Smaller organisations have borne the brunt of the reduction – none of the companies to be dropped received grants over £1million.

Several organisations have seen a significant cut in funding, including English National Opera which received a 32 percent reduction. Most current NPO organisations, 75 percent, received standstill funding.

The total investment in NPOs for 2015/16 will be £339.5million, compared to £341.4m in 2014/15.

But it wasn't all bad news. Among the 46 companies named as NPOs for the first time today were Matthew Bourne's companies New Adventures and Re:Bourne and Exeter's Bike Shed Theatre. Others saw an uplift, including children's theatre the Unicorn, which received a 30 percent increase.

"Children’s theatre has come a long way since the Unicorn was founded in 1947," said artistic director Purni Morell, "and it’s a terrific milestone to be recognised in this funding round as being equally important to the cultural life of the nation as any of the country’s leading theatres."

The Arts Council has been making significant cuts since 2010, when it received a 30 percent reduction in funding as part of the coalition government's austerity measures.

ACE chairman Peter Bazalgette said today: "We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver such a strong and well balanced portfolio.

"With 46 new entrants to the National Portfolio, with increased funding for Grants for the Arts, and with Creative People and Places being maintained at its current level over the next period, this settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England's arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding is declining you have to set priorities – this we have done."

For further information on the ACE funding plans, including a full list of NPOs, click here