Thursday, March 16, 2006


The Theatre Royal - Safe in Whose Hands?

I was at the Local Economy Scrutiny Panel last night and arrived just in time (I'd been at a work conference in London all day) to hear a presentation from the Chief Executive of Winchester's Theatre Royal. It was interesting. She told us about the variety of productions in the theatre, about the work done in youth theatre across the District and the important role that the theatre plays in the City's economy.

Now, the interesting background to all this is that the Tory opposition on the City Council want to slash the City's grant to the Theatre Royal. At the Council's budget meeting last month they proposed reducing the grant by £20,000 this year, then a further £20,000 next year and so on until the grant is reduced to £100,000 a year.

My colleague Simon Cook chipped in a great question last night. He asked the Chief Exec what the effect of a £20,000 grant reduction would be. Her reply was unambiguous. She was certain that the theatre would close in 3 months. The funny thing is, I was speaking to a complete stranger at the London conference yesterday who, when he learned I lived in Winchester, said "I often go down to Winchester, it's such a great centre for culture." Take away the Theatre Royal and you remove a critical piece from Winchester's cultural life.

While LibDems continue to run the City, the Theatre Royal will be safe.

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