Consequences of the Arts Council's £1.5m budget cut last week are now being felt on the capital's local arts scene as the London Arts Board yesterday announced the allocation of its reduced £14.15m share. The biggest loser is the Greenwich Theatre which had all of its £191,000 withdrawn. The fringe venue, located in the shadow of the £750m Greenwich Millenium Dome which is being heavily subsidised through the National Lottery, has announced that it will now close at the end of March.
Theatre director Sir Peter Hall attacked the Government's arts policy at an awards ceremony held yesterday at the Savoy Hotel which was attended by Culture Secretary Chris Smith. Hall, whose unsubsidised repertory company is now homeless and possibly defunct following the announced sale of the Old Vic theatre, said that successive years of cuts under the Conservative government had crippled arts companies and that he was dismayed to see it happening again under Labour.
"It (funding cuts) saves tuppence. It's going to ruin a number of small theatres and dance companies. What's the point, Minister?" asked Hall, addressing Smith. "Is it just that you are reassuring Tory voters that you are not soft on the arts? It won't do."
Hall added, "Sorry to be passionate, but I think the situation is ridiculous." His speech was greeted with a standing ovation by the actors, musicians and artists in the audience for the South Bank Show Awards ceremony. Smith later responded that the cuts were unfortunate but necessary and that the Government could not do everything it wanted at once.
The London Arts Board has granted increases to the Lyric Theatre, the Battersea Arts Centre and the Sadler's Wells dance company. Other fringe casualties to the funding cuts - the King's Head theatre in Islington and the Gate theatre in Notting Hill, west London - have won partial reprieves thanks to grants of £25,000 from the Cameron Mackintosh foundation. --By Terri Paddock
What's On Stage, London