Glimmer of hope for Redbridge Drama Centre after surprise halt of spending cuts

L-R Phil Keating, Richard Astley, Emma Barrows, Caroline Ward, Dilly Rich, Alex Butters, Issy Perera

L-R Phil Keating, Richard Astley, Emma Barrows, Caroline Ward, Dilly Rich, Alex Butters, Issy Perera, Eugene Czauderna, Jo Balcombe - Credit: Archant

After more than a year of battling to survive council cuts, Redbridge Drama Centre will not face a reduction in funding next year.

The base in Churchfields, South Woodford, which helps youngsters get on the stage, was under threat after the council voted in March to completely stop its grant from 2014/15, putting in doubt support from Arts Council England, which requires local authority funding.

It was already buckling under an £89,000 annual funding cut by Redbridge Council due to continue for three years after £25,000 was slashed in 2012.

However, in a surprise announcement at a full council meeting on Thursday, culture head Cllr Ashok Kumar proposed to halt the cut next year.

The scheduled savings at Redbridge Music Service, based in Ilford, will also not go ahead.

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Pankaj Pathak, secretary of the Friends of Redbridge Drama Centre, urged the council to make a more long-term commitment.

He said: “While it is good news, it is only good news for the short term.

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“I don’t mind campaigning every time we face cuts but it would put us at ease if they said these were our proposals for the next few years.

“But I am grateful to both Cllr Kumar and Cllr Keith Prince, the council leader, for this promise. That was hugely unexpected, it was a major relief.”

Cllr Richard Hoskins, who has campaigned to reduce the cuts for the last three years, welcomed the news.

But he warned: “Cllr Kumar will certainly have to stick by his promise or otherwise he will be performing on the stage in the most unfortunate way.”

Cllr Hoskins said of the centre: “It deserves the support it gets from Redbridge Council. It is a centre of excellence so to hear Cllr Kumar’s comments was good news.”

It works with young people aged five to 21 and also has a television and edit suite.

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