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Arts funding in region is unfair; VOICE OF THE NORTH.

AFTER reading about Arts Council cuts in the region (The Journal, November 5), I delved into the figures and was amazed to learn where the remaining arts grants, paid by us, the taxpayers, are going to.

The figures show that, after the cutbacks, Durham City Arts and Durham County Council receive pounds 32,000 and pounds 46,000 respectively. That's a miserly total of pounds 78,000 for a whole city and county. I may have read the figures wrong, but the Gala Theatre in Durham appears to receive nothing and yet it is a 500-seat theatre providing entertainment for a whole city.

Meanwhile, further afield, a Newcastle-based organisation called New Writing North get pounds 175,000. What have they done to justify that ? I'm amazed that popular theatres like the Theatre Royal in Newcastle and the Customs House in South Shields receive only pounds 43,000 and pounds 124,000 respectively, yet Northern Stage in Newcastle receives pounds 1.3m. I know of no one who has ever been to the place. Apparently it was called the Newcastle Playhouse 40 years ago and puts on minority stuff no other theatres will. There's probably a good reason for that.

Likewise, The Live Theatre in Newcastle, a tiny venue, gets pounds 543,000. Apart from Pitman Painters, has it produced anything of worth in the last five years to justify this excessive amount? And then there's The Sage Gateshead, a white elephant if there ever was one. Home to past-it rock stars and tribute bands, it gets a whopping pounds 3.5m from the public purse.

And there's more: Dance City pounds 367,000; Theatre Sans Frontiers pounds 211,000; Voluntary Arts Network pounds 216,000; Theatre Hullabaloo pounds 150,000 and Audiences North East Ltd pounds 111,000. Does anyone know what these organisations do? STEPHEN MUNRO, Durham
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 13, 2010
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