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Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds left with questions over Suffolk County Council’s £500,000 funding plans





The boss of a Bury St Edmunds theatre which was among arts organisations facing a major council funding cut has given a mixed verdict on plans to offer a £500,000 lifeline.

The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds was standing to lose £100,00 per year as a result of the cuts proposed by Suffolk County Council – however, the announcement of a new project fund has left the theatre in a cautious position.

Artistic director Owen Calvert-Lyons said it was a good sign that the council had found a new way to support the county’s arts and heritage organisations but he now had more questions than answers.

Artistic director Owen Calvert-Lyons said the plans of a £500,000 funding pot has put at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds in a cautious position. Picture: Mark Westley
Artistic director Owen Calvert-Lyons said the plans of a £500,000 funding pot has put at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds in a cautious position. Picture: Mark Westley

He said: “There’s no doubt that this is good news for arts organisations across Suffolk but we are somewhat cautious about what this funding really means.

“It shows the impact of our campaign and we’re happy that Suffolk County Council is trying to find a way to help support us.

“However, the lack of communication we’ve had this far about funding is quite concerning for us. We don’t know anything about this new £500,000 – how do we apply? How long will it be in place? How is it distributed between arts bodies?”

Suffolk County Council’s plans for the funding were announced on Friday. Picture: Mark Westley
Suffolk County Council’s plans for the funding were announced on Friday. Picture: Mark Westley

“We still urge the council to consider core funding – that’s what we really need.”

Owen said the previous core funding was used to its community engagement programme which worked with schools to deliver drama clubs and school literacy projects.

However, as the new funding could be more short term, it limits the theatre’s capabilities to plan with schools and a lot of these extracurricular activities would be impacted.

The £500,000 funding pot comes after the announcement to end core funding of nine arts and heritage organisations, which the council said would allow it to prioritise services including SEND, home to school transport and children in care.

Further discussions on funding will take place tomorrow at Suffolk County Council’s cabinet meeting.