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Islington Puppet theatre – loved by Dame Judi Dench and Clive Owen – won’t close despite missing out on funding

Little Angel Theatre Pic: Sarah Elvin Little Angel Theatre Pic: Sarah Elvin

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
1:15 PM

A popular theatre beloved by stars Dame Judi Dench and Clive Owen has vowed to stay open despite missing out on crucial funding.

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Stephen Mangan has backed the theatre's bid for a new roofStephen Mangan has backed the theatre's bid for a new roof

The Little Angel Puppet Theatre, in Dagmar Passage, Islington, is considered the home of British puppetry but was once again overlooked for long term Arts Council funding last week.

But Lynette Shanbury, executive director, says their future is not in doubt, although the decision means they will have to spend a lot of time fundraising – like their current bid for a new roof backed by comedian Stephen Mangan.

She said: “We won’t close because we are resilient and we’ve made sure we can’t.

“Since we were forced to shut 12 years ago we’ve grown massively and we are now the leading puppet theatre in the country.

“One way or another 70,0000 people came through our doors last year. No one else comes close to that.

“But this means we can’t do the things we want, like free or discounted events for our loyal local residents. And it means we have to raise cash constantly.”

Ms Shanbury said she wasn’t sure why the theatre wasn’t one of the 46 London organisations to get the funding.

“Maybe they think we can survive on our own,” she said. “But there is a difference between thriving and surviving.

“We want to do something exciting and support the community who support us.

“There is some anti-London feeling in the rest of the country, which I understand

“But that means some of the more deserving London groups don’t get the funding.

“The big guns like the Royal Shakespeare Company do, but for some £20,000 is a drop in the ocean. For us it’s huge.

“It’s a hard decision for the Arts Council, but it’s so frustrating.

“What more do we have to do?”

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