Dismay at cuts to funding

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THE man in charge of bringing a touring theatre group to Morpeth has spoken of his dismay at a major cut in its funding.

Last week it was announced that Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) and Alnwick Playhouse missed out on a three-year joint bid from Arts Council England, which would have secured projects until 2015.

NTC is the only professional group between Newcastle and Scotland, taking live theatre across Northumberland.

Performances are held at Morpeth Town Hall, Longhirst Village Hall, Kirkley Hall and Whalton Village Hall among other venues.

But apart from a small grant from Northumberland County Council and box office money, the company relies on Arts Council funds.

From 2012 the award-winning InterACT programme will be scrapped and other funding streams will have to be accessed for other work.

As Director of the Greater Morpeth Development Trust Arts and Culture Group, Frank Rescigno brings in NTC shows and workshops to Morpeth.

He said: “NTC brings professional theatre to Northumberland and more than 100 people have seen its last four shows in the Town Hall.

“Going to town and village locations means residents can go to convenient places instead of having to travel into Newcastle to see these high-quality productions.

“It gives young actors and playwrights an excellent opportunity to develop their skills so it’s ridiculous to completely cut the company’s funding.

“I don’t think the Arts Council fully understands the important role NTC has in the community and I would urge people angry with this decision to contact its North East office and write to their local MP.”

Mr Rescigno also questioned the decision to give more money to some venues instead of equal reductions across the board.