The plan to stop funding for Gwent Theatre, which is one of the more established theatre company's which regularly performs in schools across the former county of Gwent, is very bad news indeed. As the cuts begin to hit home, all of our public funded bodies are going to feel the cuts.
The Arts Council of Wales is now planning to withdraw funding worth £3.6m from 32 arts groups from next year. The Gwent area, especially Monmouthshire, is sadly going to be particularly badly hit. Gwent Theatre which was set up over 30 years ago, and has previously received £250,000 a year from the Arts Council of Wales, may well be wound up as a result of the loss of funding.
The impact of the loss of funding will hit the Theatre's small company of six people: actors, stage manager, educational and administrative staff who will all lose their jobs. A number of whom have worked with the Theatre company for over twenty years and have consistently delivered work of the highest quality throughout the former county of Gwent.
There will also be a further reduction in employment opportunities for actors, script writers, musicians, poets and storytellers all of whom will now lose out when the cuts begin to bite. Gwent Theatre provides employment opportunities for up to 40 people in any given year.
The most significant impact of the loss of Gwent Theatre is going to be the loss of its role in educating countless pupils and young people in Gwent's schools - I can remember them coming to my school when i was a kid. It's worth remembering that 2009 – 2010 alone, Gwent Theatre was able to deliver 220 performances to some 14,000 + young people in some 219 schools.
Gwent Theatre also held 81 theatre workshops with over 2500 participants. The highly acclaimed Gwent Young Peoples Theatre put on seven productions, with 5183 youth theatre attendances and audience figures of 1,794. This is pretty good if not an outstanding delivery of work in a single year from a small theatre company.
Over the years Gwent Theatre has worked hard to establish itself as a highly successful company which regularly takes its excellent work into our schools and our communities across Gwent – something that more than than fulfils the aims and objectives of the Arts Council of Wales to put the experience of live theatre into individuals and communities lives.
It's time to think again funding wise, this may on the surface appear to be an easy hit, but, it is a cut that is far too deep - Gwent Theatre has successfully and faithfully served individuals, schools and communities across Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen, and has worked solidly for years to build up good working relations across the greater Gwent area.
Gwent Theatre does not deserve this fate and neither should our communities be culturally deprived of the important future contributions to could and should made by Gwent Theatre in future years.