Ed Theatres lose out in funding round

Oct 29 2014 | By More

“Damaging” 17.5% cut to Lyceum funding
Trav loses 11.1%
£6.7M a year to 16 Edinburgh organisations

Edinburgh’s two major production houses, the Lyceum and Traverse theatres, are the big losers in Creative Scotland’s latest funding round, made public today, Thursday 30 October 2014.

The cut to the Lyceum’s grant is particularly hard-felt and was greeted as a “perverse punishment for acknowledged success” by the theatre’s bosses who said they are disappointed and surprised by the decision.

The Traverse. Photo: Thom Dibdin

The Traverse. Photo: Thom Dibdin

The majority of recipients of the National arts quango’s £100m, three year Regular Funding Programme have received standstill or increased funding. Just three companies have lost out. Perth’s Horsecross – where the theatre is currently dark for refurbishment – joining the Lyceum and the Traverse.

In Edinburgh, 16 dance and drama organisations share about a fifth of the national pot, with funding of £6.7m a year, or £20.2m over the three year funding period. This, however, includes the EIF which gets £2.3m a year. The Fringe and Luminate festivals will also receive relatively modest amounts.

Three of Edinburgh’s non-building-based theatre companies are to get Regular Funding: Grid Iron, Lung Ha’s and Stellar Quines, as is East Lothian-based Catherine Wheels. These range from £146,0000 to £220,000 a year.

Getting funding for the first time from this particular funding mechanisms are dance company Curious Seed, TRACS – which runs the Scottish Storytelling Centre – and the Festival and King’s Theatres. The latter partly because of the new Studio theatre.

Dance Base is to get an increase of 24.5% to £408,000 a year.

Of the losers, the Lyceum is particularly badly hit. After seven years of standstill funding, income will be reduced by £212,000 a year from April 2015, its 50th anniversary year. This 17.5% cut leaves the company with less than six months to rethink its business model, according to its executive director Alex McGowan and artistic director Mark Thomson.

playing a vital role

In a strongly worded statement, McGowan and Thomson said: “On the eve of our 50th year we are making widely acclaimed theatre, commissioning and producing more exciting new work and our youth and community engagement is stronger than ever.

“We are playing a vital role in sustaining a theatre industry in Scotland so this decision seems like a perverse punishment for acknowledged success. The Lyceum is now faced with rethinking our business model in less than six months.”

The Traverse’s grant is to be reduced by just under £108,000 a year, a reduction of 11.1%. In a statement responding to the news, the theatre’s management  said that although they are disappointed to receive a reduction in funding, they “understand the difficult decisions which had to be made in light of the over subscription for funds”.

The statement added: “We look forward to discussing this further with Creative Scotland, and our priority now is to focus on revisiting our plans for the future to ensure that the Traverse continues to present the exciting and innovative performances for which it is renowned, and through which it has earned the respect of the international theatre community.”

A total of 264 organisations across Scotland applied for the funds, with requests totalling £212m over three years. Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer told Æ that if all the companies which were successful had received what they asked for, the amount given would have been 47% higher.

Speaking of how decisions were made on which company to fund, she said: “We went through individual budgets and we made very carefully considered decisions about the level of funding to offer based on the budget proposition. Not everybody got what they asked for and I wouldn’t begin to pretend for a minute to expect that they would.”


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