Backing for bid to safeguard theatre

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LEADING writers, politicians and actors have spoken out in defence of Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre following cuts to its funding.

The theatre, a home of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s work for the past 40 years, is having to re-think its entire business strategy after being told by North Yorkshire County Council that its annual grant will be cut by 84 per cent.

A letter was issued to staff explaining that until theatre bosses hear from Arts Council England, the next three years’ funding remains uncertain and the venue’s future past April 2012 is unknown.

The situation has prompted a number of key figures to back the “national cultural treasure” in an interview with national newspaper The Observer.

Fiona Evans, writer of The Price of Everything, which premiered at Scarborough in November, said: “While this unique venue not only brings huge amounts of money into the local economy, it enriches the cultural lives of people in Scarborough and beyond...regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Calendar Girls screenwriter Tim Firth, who started his career at Scarborough, said: “In Scarborough, any new writing had to stand its corner against the Ayckbourn and assorted classics in a summer season, which was hellishly frightening but, for me, invaluable.”