The Rose Theatre is facing a grim fight for survival after failing to secure vital arts funding needed to make up the recent £100k loss in council grants.
The theatre, which announced losses of £645,379 last year, saw its bid for the crucial funding rejected when the Arts Council for England (ACE) announced its annual budget on Wednesday.
Sir Peter Hall, the Rose Director Emeritus, said that the theatre was now “without the crucial Arts Council subsidy that would have given it security.”
He added: “The news is sad stuff indeed. The Council’s decision not to back the Rose can only be described as an absolute slap in the face.”
The disappointment from ACE comes after the theatre saw its £400,000 annual grant from Kingston Council reduced by £100,000 as part of the wider squeeze on public spending.
The theatre’s £300,000 a year grant from Kingston University also expires this year, leaving the theatre in a perilous financial situation.
Artistic Director of the Rose, Stephen Unwin, spoke out against the cuts on Wednesday after hearing the theatre the application had been turned down, claiming that the difference in funding for different areas of the capital is disproportionate.
He said: “We are very disappointed by today’s news. This is a difficult day for the thousands of people who care about the Rose and have invested so much time, energy and money into making it work.”
“The funding situation in South West London is now worse than ever and the contrast with East London – especially the Olympic Boroughs – is stark. It’s clear that a large part of the Mayor of London’s cultural strategy has been ignored.”
The theatre has been a great source of controversy in recent months with local residents and members of the council opposition who believe the Rose should not continue to receive funding when vital services have faced significant cuts.
Conservative Councillor Priyen Patel said: “Originally the Lib Dems said no public money would be used to fund the theatre – but the public has continued to fund the theatre year after year. It’s is the last place you would expect the money to come from, it’s just not appropriate. It’s not fair and it’s not right.”
“We support the theatre, but in the national climate we need to pin ourselves down,” he added.
The theatre’s financial statements released last year hinted that the financial situation of the theatre was in difficulty after the accountants took the unusual step of warning that the business might not be able to continue.
Mr Patel is concerned about the future of the theatre: “In its current situation the theatre would not survive without public funding. They are looking at reducing pay and cutting costs, but even then a turnaround is unlikely.”
“Other members of the opposition have said this is a case of ‘throwing good money after bad.’”
“If we were in charge we would have serious reservations about continuing to fund the theatre. We would want the theatre to stand on its own two feet.
“The Rose is sitting on a prime piece of land that could be put to great commercial use. This is something that could happen in five years or less – we would urge them to look at all the scenarios now.”
The Rose was one of 638 organisations across England to see their applications for funding for 2011-12 turned down by the Arts Council.