By Ian Youngs
30 March 2015
From the section Entertainment & Arts
Venues including the Tyneside Cinema, Northern Stage, Theatre Royal and Live Theatre have had budgets cut
There were howls of protest in 2012 when Newcastle City Council said it would be the first British city to scrap funding for theatres, galleries and other arts venues. A compromise was found, and venues are now finding new ways to survive.
A “cultural wasteland” was the fate writer Lee Hall – who set stories like Billy Elliot and the Pitmen Painters in north-east England – predicted for his home city.
“The tumbleweed will start blowing up the cultural streets here,” he warned in 2013 after Newcastle City Council put forward a plan to axe its £1.2m annual arts budget.
Opposition such as this led the council to search down the back of the sofa and eventually come up with £600,000 per year – half the previous amount – for a new cultural fund, which kicks in this week.
After a bidding process, 15 organisations have been given three-year grants. Six of those had not previously received regular council funding.
But the established theatres, museums, galleries and independent cinemas have received deep cuts. Two – the Globe gallery and the 178-year-old Theatre Royal – were cut out altogether.
The Newcastle Theatre Royal has introduced booking fees and is staging more crowd-pleasing musicals
Source:: BBC Entertainment