‘Severe’ cuts to town’s heritage

TWO of Scarborough’s top attractions have fallen victim to severe cuts in public funding.

Jobs are under threat and summer events are being cancelled as The Stephen Joseph Theatre and Scarborough Castle are hit.

The SJT is having to rethink its entire business strategy after being told by North Yorkshire County Council that is annual grant will be cut by 84 per cent.

The grant will be slashed from £63,000 in 2010/11 to just £10,000 in 2011/12.

As a result of the cuts the theatre has announced it is cancelling its tour to rural venues in the summer.

Bosses also predict their outreach department, which carries out work within the community, will be severely effected.

Chris Monks, artistic director at the SJT, said: “As a result of our cut from the County Council, we will no longer be able to tour our summer shows to venues across Yorkshire such as the Evron Centre Filey, Whitby Coliseum and Pickering Meeting House as we have in previous years.

“As a direct result of the cut, residents of North Yorkshire will have less access to the arts and culture.

“Despite the severity of the cut, we strongly believe in the value of our OutReach work. Last year 4,000 children participated in educational projects run by the SJT.

“We will continue to deliver workshops and classes within the community. However we will not be able to sustain this level of activity without finding support from elsewhere.”

At Scarborough Castle jobs are at risk after English Heritage confirmed proposals to shut the attraction on winter weekdays.

The move is the result of a 32 per cent cut in Government Funding, and also affects Clifford’s Tower in York, Whitby Abbey, Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx Abbey.

An English Heritage spokesman said yesterday there would be an inevitable impact on staff at properties with reduced winter opening times.

“Around 270 staff are employed in visitor operations roles during the winter period,” he said.

“This equates to 187 full-time equivalent posts, as 37 per cent of staff are part time. For the North of England, the potential impact would be on 52 members of staff.”

He said the organisation would be exploring all options for minimising the impact and was consulting staff on achieving this. It is not yet known how many Scarborough jobs will be affected.