Funding cuts force closure of Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre
The Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre in Taunton is closing its doors today and going into administration while all options are considered, with redundancies among the venue’s staff.
Following years of cuts to its public funding, the 352-seat theatre venue and gallery desperately needed more investment from its stakeholders but was unable to secure an agreement in time to stay open.
Taunton Deane Borough Council cut its funding by 25 per cent when Arts Council England withdrew regular funding from The Brewhouse in 2005 but had still been providing £152,000 a year.
Somerset County Council cut all arts funding in 2010. The Brewhouse is a registered charity with a board of trustees of local volunteers.
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Paul Birch, chairman of the board of governors, said: “In the current harsh economic climate and against a background of long-term underfunding for The Brewhouse, the position has become untenable. Even with regular high attendances, such as our final performance of Hull Truck Theatre’s Jane Eyre last night, which sold out weeks ago, the economy of scale no longer works in our favour.
“In short, taking tickets sales and other revenue streams together, The Brewhouse raises about 60 per cent of what it needs to keep going and with inadequate public investment it is impossible to achieve this.”
Robert Miles, artistic director and chief executive, added: “The Brewhouse has worked as efficiently as it can to provide the best and most accessible arts provision for Taunton and the surrounding area. Its restaurant, front of house concessions and fundraising activity has all brought additional income into the building, but ultimately 352 seats does not give the margins which we need to survive.
“I apologise to all the suppliers, ticketholders and visiting artists that this will affect, the trustees were left with no other option.”
Taunton Deane Borough Council said in a statement it has been a strong supporter of The Brewhouse since the theatre’s launch more than 30 years ago.
“The borough council is unable to step in to offer further financial support to The Brewhouse due to the significant financial risk and the uncertainty that any rescue would be successful. It has neither the money nor the specialist expertise to take on such a venture,” it said.
Council leader councillor John Williams said: “I would like to reassure the community that we are committed to high quality arts provision in Taunton and will play an active role in any discussions on finding a way forward for The Brewhouse.”