Hackney organisations hit as Arts Council funding axe falls

Arts organisations in Hackney were holding their breath this morning as the funding axe finally fell.

Today’s announcement from Arts Council England brought a mixture of joy and disappointment for venues, theatres, galleries and arts groups around the borough.

Among those hit hardest was Shoreditch-based Theatre Centre, the UK’s oldest drama company for young people, which will lose 14.7 per cent of its ACE cash between 2012 and 2015.

The Hackney Empire in Mare Street, which has battled financial crisis in recent years, will see a small funding cut of 2.3 per cent.

And theatre bosses at the historic Hoxton Hall, providing youth arts activities and professional performances, were forced to deny it was in danger of closing after missing out altogether.

Director Hayley White said: “Hoxton Hall’s disappointing news means reduced artistic programme but we are here to stay. Not formerly an Regulary Funded Organisation (RFO) the funding decision does not effect our core work and we are not at risk. Despite this news the future is bright with an exciting capital project and secure funding to become creative youth centres in Islington and Hackney.”

But Dalston’s Arcola Theatre, which reopened in an abandoned Ashwin Street factory at the beginning of this year, was one of the capital’s greatest success stories.

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Its ACE funding will go up from �150,000 a year to �300,000 between 2012 and 2015.

Executive Director Dr Ben Todd said: “After 10 years of working on a shoestring to deliver excellent work, but having to underpay our actors and creative teams, this grant increase will allow us to finally pay artists properly.

“It will also allow us to further bolster our flourishing youth and community arts programmes, which we have continued to deliver, despite significant loss of funding over the past 12 months, thus ensuring that Arcola continues to provide the very best theatre for and by its community.”

Author Nick Hornby’s creative writing centre, The Ministry of Stories in Hoxton Square, also celebrated after securing �60,000 a year.

Co-directors Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne said: “These are challenging times for everyone in the arts, but we are especially pleased that the next generation will have access to high quality, creative learning in reading and writing.”