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Funding cuts force closure of Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre

Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre

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The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre in Taunton is closing its doors today and going into administration while all options are considered, with redundancies among the venue’s staff.

Following years of cuts to its public funding, the 352-seat theatre venue and gallery desperately needed more investment from its stakeholders but was unable to secure an agreement in time to stay open.

Taunton Deane Borough Council cut its funding by 25 per cent when Arts Council England withdrew regular funding from The Brewhouse in 2005 but had still been providing £152,000 a year.

Somerset County Council cut all arts funding in 2010. The Brewhouse is a registered charity with a board of trustees of local volunteers.

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Paul Birch, chairman of the board of governors, said: “In the current harsh economic climate and against a background of long-term underfunding for The Brewhouse, the position has become untenable. Even with regular high attendances, such as our final performance of Hull Truck Theatre’s Jane Eyre last night, which sold out weeks ago, the economy of scale no longer works in our favour.

“In short, taking tickets sales and other revenue streams together, The Brewhouse raises about 60 per cent of what it needs to keep going and with inadequate public investment it is impossible to achieve this.”

Robert Miles, artistic director and chief executive, added: “The Brewhouse has worked as efficiently as it can to provide the best and most accessible arts provision for Taunton and the surrounding area. Its restaurant, front of house concessions and fundraising activity has all brought additional income into the building, but ultimately 352 seats does not give the margins which we need to survive.

“I apologise to all the suppliers, ticketholders and visiting artists that this will affect, the trustees were left with no other option.”

Taunton Deane Borough Council said in a statement it has been a strong supporter of The Brewhouse since the theatre’s launch more than 30 years ago.

“The borough council is unable to step in to offer further financial support to The Brewhouse due to the significant financial risk and the uncertainty that any rescue would be successful. It has neither the money nor the specialist expertise to take on such a venture,” it said.

Council leader councillor John Williams said: “I would like to reassure the community that we are committed to high quality arts provision in Taunton and will play an active role in any discussions on finding a way forward for The Brewhouse.”

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2 comments

  • nickthompson  |  February 21 2013, 6:59PM

    The person responsible for the red arrow,why not leave a comment if you disagree with the point I am making,of course I feel terribly sorry for those losing their jobs,but my view remains the same. Overall over £2.9 billion will go to Arts Council England over the life of this Parliament: £1.887 billion in direct Government funding, and over £1 billion in Lottery funding, the main recipients being,The Royal Opera House, English National Opera,National Theatre,Royal Shakespear Company,and The South Bank Center, all these organisations are (in the main) supported by the well heeled 000000000001%, notice no mention is made of funding (keeping down ticket prices) of major rock festivals,major sporting events etc.

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  • nickthompson  |  February 21 2013, 10:21AM

    Taunton Deane Borough Council cut its funding by 25 per cent when Arts Council England withdrew regular funding from The Brewhouse in 2005 BUT HAD STILL BEEN PROVIDING £152,000 A YEAR.-------------------- WHY? What is it that is so special about Theatre goer's that you and I must help them pay to attend If peope wish to visit the theatre they should pay the full cover charge,we are not only giving them our council tax cash,but the government fund the Arts Council millions of pound every year from general taxation (again our cash), when visiting Ashton Gate to watch Bristol City lose I pay £25 to get in,no council subsidies for soccer fans,just Theare and Ballet which are,supported by 000000000000.1% ofthe population.

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