Kenneth More Theatre “will be forced to close” in council cuts crisis

THE FUTURE of Ilford’s theatre is under threat according to its manager, after Redbridge Council demanded it find tens of thousands of pounds in the next three years.

Robert Jackson, manager of the Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford, blasted the threat of its closure as “absolutely insane”.

A council report warns that if is not projecting a break-even for 2013/14 by the end of 2013 – which effectively means balancing the books by �200,000 – the theatre “will be forced to close with subsequent redundancy costs”.

The council plans to axe �20,000 of funding in 2011/12, and a further �30,000 the following year, leaving the 36-year-old theatre with a grant of �150,000.

But that will forced it reduce operating costs to zero.

The savage funding proposal was put forward by the council on Monday as part of a multi-million pound budget cut for 2011/12, being called one of the borough’s most difficult ever budgets.

Mr Jackson said: “It seems the idea is to close the theatre, as to find such funding for the theatre in three years is quite a task.”

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He added: “We were going to have a new theatre built before the economic climate turned for the worse, and the council said it was committed to the arts. So it’s absolutely insane to now seemingly want to close it.”

Town hall bosses have suggested “moving away from the current commitment to amateur theatre”, “buying in mid-scale touring productions” and using other venues for rehearsals to free up capacity.

But Mr Jackson says they are “inaccurate assumptions”.

He said: “There are no rehearsals in the auditorium. The idea that time and money is being wasted on rehearsals is not accurate at all.”