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»Small theatres in Redbridge have welcomed a potential lifeline from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

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The London Assembly (LA) launched an investigation yesterday (Wednesday) to find out how smaller venues can stay afloat across the capital.

It is seeking the views of theatres, such as the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) in Oakfield Road, Ilford, and the Redbridge Drama Centre in Churchfields, South Woodford.

Audiences will also be consulted to find out what challenges theatres face and to see if more could be done to provide support.

The Drama Centre was set to have its subsidy from Redbridge Council cut to £89,000 for 2013/14 but will now receive £239,000 over the next two years.

And negotiations over the long-term lease of the KMT have stalled as the council has waited a year for a business plan to be drawn up.

LA member Tom Copley said: “[Small theatres] face particular difficulties at the moment around funding.”

The survey is aimed at theatres with fewer than 300 seats or an annual turnover below £250,000. The GLA could help with marketing and planning, according to a spokesman.

Pankaj Pathak, secretary of the Friends of Redbridge Drama Centre, said: “The main challenge is always going to be maintaining a steady flow of council funding.

“I don’t think the drama centre has ever had funding from the GLA. If the GLA is committed to theatres, it needs to create a large central pot.

“It would be fantastic if the GLA are considering extending funding to small theatres.”

KMT manager Steven Day said: “This is a great initiative. We will be completing the survey although we do sit slightly above the criteria for the theatres this survey is targeting and aims to help.

“Here at The KMT we are in our third year of local government funding cuts, which are our only source of external funding.”

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