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Redbridge Drama Centre handed funding lifeline

08:00 13 December 2012

A drama centre which puts on workshops for thousands of young people each year has been thrown a lifeline by Redbridge Council which could secure its future.

Redbridge Drama Centre was under threat after the council voted in March to completely cut its grant from 2014/15, putting in doubt support from Arts Council England which requires local authority funding.

But now hope has been restored after the council said it would continue to fund the centre, in Churchfields, South Woodford, although at a lower rate than before.

The news comes as it emerged negotiations on a long-term lease for Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre have stalled due to a failure to draw up a business plan.

Reacting to the changes, Pankaj Pathak, secretary of the Friends of Redbridge Drama Centre, said: “It’s amazing – it’s really good news. I’m very grateful that they have come to the decision. It is not in the interest of young people in the borough to withhold such a valuable resource.”

The council was set to cut the centre’s funding to £89,000 for 2013/14 and stop funding altogether the year after.

It will now receive £239,000 over the next two years.

Fiona Kennedy, 16, of Woodford Green, said the centre had improved her confidence.

She said: “It doesn’t matter where you come from or your race, personality or character they accept you for who you are.

“If it wasn’t for the drama centre I would have been really suffering.”

In a meeting at the centre last week cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Alan Weinberg said the original proposals had been scrapped. He said: “No one wants the drama centre to fold. It’s something everyone in Redbridge should be proud of. I hope people will think this is the right thing.”

A spokesman for the Arts Council said it was in discussion with the council to establish the centre’s future.

The decision to continue to fund the centre will go to cabinet next year, before being voted on by full council.

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