Prestigious Islington theatre big loser in Arts Council cuts

ONE of the country’s most prestigious fringe theatres was one of the biggest losers as arts funding was slashed today.

The Almeida Theatre, in Almeida Street, Islington, faces a massive 39 per cent cut to the amount of money it will get from the national funding body Arts Council England over the next few years.

The news came as the Arts Council, which had its own funding reduced by the Government last year by around 30 per cent, today revealed how much it will give to arts organisations across the country between 2012 and 2015.

The Almeida’s renowned artistic director Michael Attenborough and executive director James Bierman said in a joint statement: “The Arts Council today described the Almeida Theatre as ‘an exemplary organisation, internationally synonymous with bold play choices staged to the highest possible standards with outstanding production values’.

“The Almeida’s work is delivered to over 90,000 people each year alongside over 10,000 young people who take part in our Education programme.

“Whilst the Arts Council cut to our funding equates to 20% in cash terms over 4 years or less than 10% of turnover, there will be no cuts to our innovative artistic policy or to our ambitions. In the coming years we will take our work to more people than ever before and continue to be a leading national cultural institution.”

An Arts Council spokesman said: “The Almeida is an important part of the theatre infrastructure in London and produces excellent work both on and off stage. The award we gave to the Almeida was considered and we believe it gives the organisation time to take stock and that it will ultimately not have a detrimental effect on their output – we will work closely with them throughout this period.”

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The theatre recently launched the Islington-set play Knot of the Heart to critical acclaim and will stage plays by legendary television writer-director Stephen Poliakoff and Hollywood filmmaker Neil LaBute later in the year.