Company which ran theatre hands out surplus funds to arts projects

The Redbridge Theatre Company visited Little Actors on Saturday.

(L-R) Jeremy Smith, RTC chair; Cllr Suzanne Nolan, board member; Mike Woodward, board member; Leila from Little Actors; Michael Brackley, board member; and Robert Cole, vice chair. - Credit: RTC

A theatre company which ran the Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) in Ilford for more than four decades has donated its surplus funds to local drama and arts projects. 

The Redbridge Theatre Company (RTC) has been in the process of dissolving itself since handing over the management of the KMT to Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure, Redbridge Council’s culture and leisure contractor, in August 2019. 

RTC ran the theatre in Oakfield Road since its opening in 1975. 

After losing its grant funding from the council, the company had been unable to continue operating the theatre.

Since 2019, it has sold its assets and paid outstanding bills, but was left with surplus funds, which it is required by its constitution to redistribute to charities. 

Robert Cole, vice-chair of RTC’s board, said he was “sad” that the company was winding up but glad the money was going to support arts in Redbridge. 

He first became involved as a borough councillor in 2014 and reapplied after leaving the council. 

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“It’s sad, to be quite honest. It was something I was looking forward to being more involved with as I retired, but it hasn’t happened,” he said. 

Among the beneficiaries was Little Actors, which provides drama training to young people in the borough. It has received £18,000. 

Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford. Photo: Paul Bennett

Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford. Photo: Paul Bennett - Credit: Archant

On Saturday, December 11, RTC board members visited Little Actors at Wanstead House, which is also to receive funding to improve its main hall with new stage curtains and lighting. 

RTC chair Jeremy Smith said: “It was great seeing the children performing and knowing our donation will help in the development of young people.

"It will help with those studying for London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, projects with National Theatre Connections and extending the help that can be given to families that would struggle to pay the fees so the maximum number of children can benefit from the Little Actors' work.” 

The theatre company is also discussing a project with Frenford Clubs, a youth club which is aiming to expand its activities to include drama and arts projects.