Sam Mendes says Arts Council UK’s decision to cut funding is ‘short-sighted’

Academy Award-winning Sir Sam Mendes has criticized the Arts Council’s (ACE) new funding scheme, which will lead to funding cuts for the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, insisting it will be “devastating.” long-term” to the broader industry.

he registered charity has announced a new category of national grants for museums, libraries and other arts institutions from 2023 to 2026, which includes new investment in 276 previous institutions not part of the program.

That means a total of 990 organizations will share £446 million a year, up from 714 previously, leading to organizations such as Donwar Warehouse and others experiencing annual budget cuts.

Filmmaker Sir Sam, founder of Donmar’s artistic director, said: “Cutting Donmar’s budget is a short-sighted decision that will cause lasting damage to the broader industry.

“Donmar has been at the heart of British theater for three decades, and has a hard-won legacy of fighting beyond its weight in both ambition and scope.

“It’s a world-renowned and influential theatre, and the UK can’t let it be put at risk.”

Meanwhile, Game Of Thrones actor Kit Harington said: “When I played Henry V on stage at Donmar in early 2022, it was a dream I’ve been living since seeing the play as a kid. a teenager.

“The experience of seeing that play as a young student was the beginning of my desire to work in this industry.


Kit Harington recalls performance at Donmar Warehouse (Ian West/PA)

“I was fortunate enough to perform the same part I inspired local students on the Donmar stage… the performances by these schools are among the most thrilling we put on.

“It is important and necessary that students and young people are not denied the opportunity to see live stages like this in the future.”

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The Watcher actress Noma Dumezweni added that Donmar is a “key venue” for British theater and described the loss of benefits as “devastating”.

Meanwhile, the British National Opera has been completely removed from the ACE catalog.

Instead, the company will receive £17 million over three years to develop a “new business model” with a proposal to move from London to Manchester.

During Friday’s press conference, ACE President, Sir Nicholas Serota, said the increase in partially funded organizations was a reflection of an increase in applications as well as the establishment of a Cultural Restoration Fund. during the pandemic highlighted “many” arts organizations they did not work with. .

Sir Nicholas said: “I think it’s clear to us that there is a huge amount of activity that really requires support and certainly deserves support, so naturally, if we can, let’s increase it. number of institutions in the portfolio.”

As part of the proposed plans, ACE has also announced a £43.5 million investment in institutions outside of London, helping to drive growth over the next three years. It will see a 95% increase in investment across 78 designated areas, towns and cities, including Blackburn, North Devon and Mansfield.

During the press conference, Sir Nicholas said: “This investment means we are supporting more people in more places. We’ve invested so that as many people in the UK as possible can enjoy the best of creativity.

“This means that no matter where you live, and whatever your background, you will have a culture close to your home. We are supporting excellence and talent everywhere. “


British Arts Council President Sir Nicholas Serota (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Royal Opera House in London is another prestigious institution with funding cuts following Friday’s ACE national portfolio announcement.

In a statement, it said: “We support the desire to invest in the arts across the country, and warmly welcome all new entrants to ACE’s national portfolio.

“However, we face significant financial challenges going forward, along with industry peers, sharply rising energy costs, rising material cost inflation and stifled box office revenues. as tourism recovers after the pandemic.

“Faced with these severe economic obstacles, we will do whatever we can to maintain the nation’s central cultural life.”

However, under ACE’s new strategy, the Belgrade Theater in Coventry will see its annual core budget increase to more than £1 million.


The Royal Opera House in London will have its budget cut (Fiona Hanson/PA)

CEO Laura Elliot and creative director Corey Campbell said they were “absolutely delighted” and “extremely grateful” for the grant.

In a statement, they added: “Over the next three years, this investment will play a pivotal role in creating an evolutionary step change for Belgrade, as we continue to evolve our vision. me.

“The additional funding will allow us to expand our work to key upgrade areas, build a cultural proposition to be developed with and for the people of Coventry and the wider region, and naturally Proud to share it with the world.”

Hannah Essex, co-chief executive officer of Theater Association of London (Solt) and Theaters UK said the announcement would be “warmly welcomed” by some, and “extremely challenging”. for others, who will face “very difficult decisions” in the coming months.

She said: “As movie theaters face a grueling winter and crippling energy bills, even the recipients of the funding won’t be able to achieve what they’ve had in the past – creatively and to be citizen-centered in their communities.”

Following the announcement, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Thanks to this new government funding package, more money is spread to more communities than ever before, who live in areas from Wolverhampton to Wigan and Crawley to Chesterfield will now benefit from the far-reaching economy. and a culture of social reward can bring.

“We continue to support our icons like the Royal Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company, but today’s announcement will show how institutions in often overlooked places will get the support they need. needed to transform access to the arts for everyone – no matter where they live. “ Sam Mendes says Arts Council UK’s decision to cut funding is ‘short-sighted’

Fry Electronics Team

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