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KU’s £300,000 pledge doesn’t smell like roses

By River Reporter Dec 8, 2011

By Umberto Bacchi and Jamila Soso-Vincent

A majority of Kingston students are backing KU’s continued financial support for the Rose Theatre– but they believe the latest £300,000 grant is too much.

The university recently announced it had thrown the theatre a lifeline, securing its future for another 12 months, but students believe that most of the money could have been put to better use.

Of 100 students polled 60 per cent believed that the sum should have been lower and nearly ten per cent thought the Rose should receive no money from the university at all.

Only 16 per cent thought the grant was fair.

Omid Mirabzadeh, a criminology student, said: “This amount of money could be better spent on improving the heating system in the Town House. They could have sent an email about that before they spent £300,000.

“Are we students not seen as part of the KU? Don’t we have the right to a say in these matters?”

The university’s decision comes despite a cut in Government funding for higher education, a rise in tuition fees and concerns that student numbers will drop next year.

Jacqueline Smart, a performance and screen studies lecturer, said that although her department received funding for 2011-12, it was a “battle” to secure it.

“Like many university departments we would like more staff, more space and more funds,” she said.

A university spokeswoman said: “The university does not anticipate a need to make substantial savings that would compromise the delivery of services to students.”

 She also added that the university would continue to support the theatre for the coming year in exchange for the use of facilities for events including graduations.

 “The Rose Theatre has been a catalyst for economic growth in the area and has provided a significant cultural boost to Kingston,” she said.

The Rose Theatre was given this lifeline after suffering a difficult financial year.  

Last January, Kingston Council cut its annual support of the Rose Theatre by £100,000 and in March, the Arts Council refused the theatre’s £600,000 grant request. As a result, the theatre had to make four employees redundant.

Despite financial pressures, David Fletcher, executive director, insisted the theatre was not in danger of being shut down.

He said: “We are hugely grateful to Kingston University for its support. It is an indispensible part of our income. This relationship is crucial in so many ways and is much more than a funding arrangement.”

This year, the Rose has signed two funding agreements. The theatre’s autumn season was supported HCBS and Esmée Fairbairn, an independent foundation supporting arts, which gave the Rose £75,000.

Four more sponsors will be supporting the spring season.

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