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Dateline: 23rd January, 2007

Exterior of the Royal and Derngate

Northampton Under Threat

Following last week's news that London's BAC is under threat of closure because of the proposed withdrawal of funding by Wandsworth Council, it has been revealed that Northampton's Royal and Derngate face a similar threat. A statement on the theatres' website says, "Northampton Borough Council is currently proposing a cut of up to £200,000 to Royal & Derngate’s annual funding this year rising to £400,000 by 2009/10. This would significantly impact the quality and quantity of shows that we put on and our work with local young people through our Youth Theatre and Creative Projects would be jeopardised. Long-term this could threaten the existence of Royal & Derngate."

The venue recently reopened after a major refurbishment to which the council contributed £900,000. Chief executive Donna Munday told The Stage, "One of the biggest problems we’re facing now is that the organisations which funded the capital works are disgusted. Arts Council England is withholding £250,000 until they know our future is sustainable and another funder is withholding £800,000 pending the outcome. If we were to lose those two grants we’d be insolvent immediately."

However the council insists that the grant reduction is only one of a number of possibilities being discussed. They have a shortfall of £3m but have made no decision about how that is to be met. The cabinet is currently discussing the proposals and there will be a full council meeting and vote on 13th February.

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©Peter Lathan 2007