Eastern Angles gets fresh backing

COMMUNITY leaders in the Suffolk Coastal area have joined the chorus of disapproval over proposals to slash the funding for the Eastern Angles theatre group.

COMMUNITY leaders in the Suffolk Coastal area have joined the chorus of disapproval over proposals to slash the funding for the Eastern Angles theatre group.

Arts Council England East (ACE East) is considering a 50 per cent cut in grant aid to the award-winning group which takes its productions to church and village halls, community centres, small theatres and schools across the region.

Government has already caused a huge furore by telling arts organisations they will get less cash in the next three years because of the need to pay for the 2012 London Olympics.

ACE East is proposing to drop Eastern Angles' funding next year to £115,000 because it wants to develop “key geographical locations”.

Suffolk Coastal council has joined other authorities in complaining and asked ACE East to reconsider its decision.

“I recognise that ACE East is probably facing the same funding pressures that we all have to deal with, but I would urgently ask it to recognise that Eastern Angles has a unique history of taking its performances out into rural parts of our district,” said cabinet member Kevin Keable.

Most Read

“These are communities which have largely been ignored by other cultural organisations in the region, either because of lack of knowledge, or interest, in staging work outside the urban centres.

“Eastern Angles regularly plays to full houses in our market towns and villages, and have commissioned local playwrights to produce work reflecting the culture and debates of our rural areas. This excellent championing of a rural cultural voice will now be abandoned.”

In a letter to ACE East, Mr Keable and Rachel Nightingale, the council's arts and heritage officer, give examples of Eastern Angles' commitment, such as its next touring show Cuckoo Teapot visiting three villages in Suffolk Coastal - Waldringfield, Westleton and Brandeston - along with Saxmundham, a town normally ignored by theatre groups.

“All too often, cultural work emanates from our urban centres, as this is where the major institutions and funding tends to be focussed. The work of Eastern Angles helps to redress the balance in the favour of the rural,” said Mr Keable.

“I would question ACE East's priorities and its commitment to its rural areas that make up such a large part of its target audience.

A spokesman for ACE East said: “At this stage, we have made recommendations about our portfolio for 2008-11 regularly funded organisations and this will not be finalised until end-January 2008,” he said.

Do you think rural theatre should be supported? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk