Local Arts Cuts cause tension in Lichfield as the Lichfield Garrick increases rent

Arts Funding

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The Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre shared its thoughts to the Local Press on the Lichfield Garrick raising fees to stage their productions. The Debate has turned fiery and sour on social media but is the real cause of the problem hiding in the shadows?

In 2013 The Lichfield Garrick was taken out of full council control to a specially created Trust. Since then Lichfield City Council has slashed the grant awarded to the Garrick from £881,470 13/14 to £310,000 2017/2018. In that time, the Garrick has changed its managerial structure and its artistic vision including the creation of an annual community musical and the introduction of more innovative programme through the Garrick Introducing Season.

It’s clear that with such a radical cull of funding by the council the Garrick was always going to need to change at the venue, in order to maintain financial stability and to enhance its own artistic and community programmes. One of these changes is the creation of peak and off-peak venue pricing for the months of March, April, October and November being those affected.

Understandably the price increases are large. However, not adapting would mean the theatre itself getting into financial trouble. It’s not the first theatre that has had to make such a decision and it’s unlikely to be the last.

Some of the comments appearing from the admin of the Lichfield Garrick Youth Theatre’s page such as agreeing with ‘Not sure alienating the amateur community is a good plan. It’s the same people who come to other things.’ are appalling and unfounded.

If the Theatre was to lower the prices for the LGYT, it would have to also for its other amateur producers, which would lead to a financial black hole in its finances, especially during the months where professional producers are likely to book the venue.

It is unfortunate that the wider picture has not been acknowledged when discussing this issue. Local Theatres across the country are being forced by Local and National Governments to become self-sufficient and unfortunately, that means things do need to change. If local organisations feel the Garrick needs the ability to afford to subsidise local amateur dramatic productions during its peak periods then they must look to the council and its own decision.

While The Lichfield Garrick is owned by a trust, but that does not exempt it from having to break even every financial year. In times of tough decisions being made across the country when it comes to the Arts, organisations need to work together and not against each other.

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