Bristol Old Vic to lose 60% council funding

Bristol Old Vic, Britain’s oldest repertory theatre, is to lose almost two thirds of its local subsidy in Bristol City Council’s latest plans, to be confirmed on December 4.

The £288k local authority annual grant is to be slashed to £100,000, a “significant reduction” according to the theatre, which believes the cut may threaten other funding and compromise the Old Vic’s contributions to civic activities, from April 2018.

In February Bristol City Council announced plans to cut its arts funding from £1m to £388,000 to 2022, prompting outcry from leader in the profession, including Timothy West who is an alumnus of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Emma Stenning, Bristol Old Vic’s chief executive, said: “We expect to receive confirmation of this new funding level on December 4th following a cabinet meeting, and we will then need to reconsider our planned-for engagement work.  The news also threatens our funding partnerships with Arts Council England and other sources, which have contributed so much to Bristol’s extraordinary health and reputation as the most exciting, creative city in Britain.

“Bristol’s Cultural Strategy speaks boldly to the potential for ‘innovative approaches to cultural investment’, and we commit to joining this effort with energy and determination.  As cabinet lead for culture, the mayor is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role in this new initiative, and we hope to hear more from him on this in the coming weeks. 

“BCC's relationship with the arts community in Bristol needs to be about more than just a pay cheque. It has the potential to be a shared belief in the value of culture for our city and an enjoyment of the economic and community benefits that it brings. 

“We want to be on the same side, working towards a common aspiration” she said. 

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