Fears for theatres as county council reduces support

Concern is growing about dramatic cuts to the shoestring budgets of North Yorkshire's independent theatres.

The actors union Equity has launched a campaign against moves by North Yorkshire County Council to cut funding to some venues by up to 85 per cent from April.

The arts in the county are also supported by Arts Council and local council funding.

But Equity says it is concerned about the impact on Harrogate Theatre, the Stephen Joseph in Scarborough, The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond and the North County Theatre Company.

An Equity spokesman said: "The severity and speed of these cuts not only jeopardizes the solvency of the theatres in question, but could fatally damage much-valued organisations that are at the heart of the community."

Stephen Joseph boss Chris Monks has already warned cuts will "severely damage Scarborough's status as a capital for high calibre dramatic productions, and hit the town's economy."

Now Harrogate North Yorkshire County Councillor Jim Clark has fired a broadside over the "draconian" treatment of Harrogate Theatre

He said: "North Yorkshire proposes to cut funding from 63,000 to 10,000 which is an 85 per cent cut. We were expecting about 10 per cent but nothing like this, They seem to be getting out of funding theatres altogether.

"We are not in any danger of closing – I can assure you of that – but this sort of cut sends out completely the wrong message."

North Yorkshire County Council will make a final decision on February 16 as part of 57m savings over the next two years as a result of Government cuts.

The council says in the current financial climate it has to protect essential services in the community.

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