Ray of hope for theatre company

A THEATRE company which feared for its future may have been handed a vital lifeline, it has emerged.Eastern Angles had been threatened with a 50% cut to its Arts Council grant which would see the Ipswich-based organisation losing out on £100,000 a year.

Anthony Bond

A THEATRE company which feared for its future may have been handed a vital lifeline, it has emerged.

Eastern Angles had been threatened with a 50% cut to its Arts Council grant which would see the Ipswich-based organisation losing out on £100,000 a year.

This led to the launch of an appeal and online petition where fans could offer their support.

But according to reports yesterday, the Arts Council may reconsider its decision to withdraw funding from about 25 of the 194 groups under threat - including the Eastern Angles.

No official announcement is expected to be made until later this week, so bosses still face an anxious wait.

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Eastern Angles artistic director Ivan Cutting said last night: “All I know is what I read in the paper. It could just be pure speculation and obviously I hope that it is true.

“The Arts Council has always said that it is a proposal and they asked for a response and we have responded and pointed out details in the proposal that we thought were wrong. We have been clear about what we thought was right and obviously we hoped that would change their minds.”

Mr Cutting said if the cuts were to go-ahead it would have a devastating impact on the group.

“We would be reduced to a flag waving exercise but I hope that we have got a brighter future,” he said.

The group, formed in 1982, is the regional touring theatre company for East Anglia and based at the Sir John Mills Theatre in Gatacre Road, Ipswich.

Its appeal has been backed by the likes of comedian Griff Rhys Jones, author Louis De Bernieres and theatrical knight Sir Peter Hall.

Offering his support to the Eastern Angles, Mr Rhys Jones, who has a home in Suffolk, said: “Once again the fourth richest economy in the world is economising in quite the wrong way.

“We need to sustain our arts and Eastern Angles is just the sort of company that the Arts Council needs to be spending more money on. It should certainly not be disabling small, local enterprise in favour of grand centralised projects.”

Also offering support is Sir Peter Hall, who was born and brought up around Bury St Edmunds.

He said: “Eastern Angles seems to me to be exactly the kind of company that the Arts Council should be supporting, not planning to undermine by reducing its grant by such a significant amount.”

The group expect to hear an official announcement from the Arts Council on Friday.