Last week saw a series of high profile protests against funding cuts announced by the Arts Council of England at the end of last year.
Much of the media coverage has focused on well known venues in metropolitan areas that are threatened with closure as a result of the cuts. But the cuts will also have a devastating on many theatre companies operating outside the big cities, as well as those that specialise in minority or political work.
Jackie Mulhallen lives in a village in Norfolk a few miles from Kings Lynn. “We have an excellent local theatre company, Eastern Angles, which tours witty, well performed and lively plays to villages all over East Anglia,” she told Socialist Worker.
“They deal with relevant and accessible subjects – conditions of agricultural workers, the environment, local working class history, teenage sex, as well as plays by African writers.
“But now the Arts Council has cut funding to Eastern Angles and several other local arts organisations, including the Norwich Puppet Theatre and Creative Arts East.
“Our nearest big cities, Norwich and Cambridge, are over an hour away by public transport. You can’t get a direct bus or train from here. This is a real problem for the elderly or for families with children. These touring plays are vital for them.
“The Arts Council has justified the cuts by saying it wants ‘to prioritise increased revenue funding for the region’s major capital partnership projects’ and to focus on ‘key geographical locations’ rather than touring companies or rural arts provision.
“Around 500 people came to a lively demonstration in Norwich last Saturday to protest about these devastating cuts.
“If your local arts organisation is being cut, you should do everything you can support it – we won’t get them back otherwise.”