Redbridge Drama Centre has a “chance to survive” despite council cuts

�Supporters of Redbridge Drama Centre say it now has a “chance to survive” after the council restructured cuts. But concerns remain about its long-term future.

The centre in Churchfields, South Woodford, which welcomed 38,000 people through its doors in 2010/11, is now having its annual subsidy of �292,000 from Redbridge Council withdrawn over four years instead of three. The change was approved by the council’s cabinet on Tuesday night. Pankaj Pathak, the secretary of Friends of the Redbridge Drama Centre, said: “I think they [the council] listened.

“The next 12 months look rosier than they did before but the long-term future still causes us some concern and angst.

“The council is committed to zero funding and we will always challenge that.

“It’s a frontline service, it’s to be treasured, it must always have financial backing by local government.”

Following a cut of �25,000 in this financial year, �89,000 will be withdrawn from the subsidy each year for the next three financial years.

Cllr Richard Hoskins, of Church End ward, said the previous proposal to front-load the cuts would have “destroyed the drama centre”.

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He said: “It now has a chance to survive but it’s a chance, it’s not gaining anything.”

A council spokesman said a robust business plan has been put in place.

She said: “Further income will be generated by working closely with other boroughs and reviewing charges.”

The centre, which helps people of all ages to put on plays, is hoping to generate extra income by expanding into a vacant adjacent building, formerly part of Churchfields Junior School, this year.

It will be used for a circus training space and studio and workshop rooms.

Cllr Alan Weinberg, the cabinet member for children’s services, said: “If you look at what other boroughs are doing, they’re shutting libraries and children’s services.

“We have said all along we don’t want it [the centre] to close.”