Uncertain future for Redbridge Drama Centre as Arts Council threatens to pull funding
A drama centre involved in the Olympic cultural festival is under threat of closure due to a possible double blow of financial cuts.
Redbridge Drama Centre, Churchfields, South Woodford, has put on more than 1,500 workshops for children in the past financial year.
But in March Redbridge Council voted to completely cut its grant from 2014/15 and the Arts Council says if this happens, it may stop funding too.
It would mean losing the two major sources of income, putting its future in doubt.
Caroline Ward, 31, who has been using the centre for almost two decades, said: “It would be a real loss to the nation as it is the only one of its kind in the UK. It has a national and international reputation. I would be completely devastated.”
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The centre was founded in 1973 and has put on 239 performances, including fringe productions, at its Lovegrove Theatre. It was relaunched in June after renovation.
Mrs Ward, of Maybank Road, South Woodford, said: “People learn so much more than drama, such as social skills and interacting with other people. If council funding is cut I cannot see how the centre will survive.”
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She added: “It seems silly to spend all this money revamping it. It’s a real haven for people of all ages.”
The bleak news emerged after a report was released for discussion at the children’s services and leisure scrutiny committee last night (Weds).
Pankaj Pathak, secretary of the Friends of Redbridge Drama Centre, said: “The end of the drama centre would be awful. Music and drama are all crucial to the development of a society – without them we may as well live on a conveyor belt.”
A spokesman for the Arts Council said: “Local authority and Arts Council budgets are under pressure but continued investment by both is needed if Redbridge Drama Centre, like many other cultural organisations, is to have a sustainable future.”
A Redbridge Council spokesman said a recent meeting between councillors and the Arts Council gave no indication that they would stop funding the centre.
The spokesman added: “The council has been working in partnership with the centre on a business plan which identifies new funding sources, including sponsorship and fundraising to ensure that it will continue to offer its valuable services to children, young people and the wider community.”