Kenneth More Theatre boss defiant over funding cuts

Director Steven Day at the Kenneth More theatre

Director Steven Day at the Kenneth More theatre - Credit: Steve Poston

A theatre boss is hoping proposed funding cuts will eventually make the venue “stronger than ever”.

Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) general manager Steven Day made the comments after plans to completely withdraw council grants of £157,000 a year by 2018 were revealed in documents this month.

The news sparked an online petition calling for Redbridge Council to halt the proposed cut to the theatre in Oakfield Road, Ilford.

The plan comes after theatre consultants were hired by the authority to determine KMT’s viability and decided it was in the borough’s interest to stop the funding.

Mr Day said: “We are fully aware of the difficult decisions that the local authority has to make during the current financial climate and we can only be grateful that they did not withdraw all funds from us with immediate effect.

“We have already made important changes to the way the KMT operates and with the support of the thousands of people that visit, work and perform here every year. We have been given two years further funding which will enable us to become stronger than ever.”

He called on the people of Redbridge to help by attending shows or joining a theatre club.

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“Any support we receive will make a difference,” said Mr Day. “A lot can be achieved in two years and we will do everything possible to keep the KMT going strong.”

But the general manager did admit the cuts were a “major blow” before thanking the theatre’s “loyal supporters”.

Theatre governor Cllr Joyce Ryan (Con, Fairlop), who is backing the petition said: “Yes, it does provide popular entertainment. But it also does a lot more than just that – it provides a community and social service that far exceeds commercial entertainment.”

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, who defended the move earlier this month, said: “The government is forcing councils to try and get people to be self-funding. The council is facing cuts and there are services which aren’t statutory services.”

The leader said continuing to fund it for the next two years was the “sensible” way forward.

KMT will officially launch its fundraising efforts on Saturday March 5 with a symphonic concert version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel.

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