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Northern Ballet receives substantial cut in Arts Council England funding

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As financial cuts to arts organisations across the country are announced, Leeds-based Northern Ballet has been told it will receive around 25% less (£800k)* in 2012/13 from Arts Council England (ACE) than it took to successfully run the Company in 2010/11. 

This is a significant reduction of income and disappointing news for the Company, which recently took up residence in a new, purpose-built home on Quarry Hill, Leeds, in what is now described as the city's cultural hub.

Northern Ballet is the UK's widest-touring ballet company, renowned for creating new full-length narrative ballet and ensuring that people throughout the country and overseas have access to high quality, professional performance and the opportunity to engage with dance.  Northern Ballet's achievements have won the Company widespread recognition, including the coveted Patron's Award of the Critics' Circle National Dance Awards in 2008, and award given to an individual or organisation that has significantly furthered the cause of dance in the UK.

Chief Executive, Mark Skipper, says,

'We are deeply disappointed with this funding outcome for Northern Ballet.  The budget we submitted to ACE reflected our true costs for 2012/15 and was built on a real schedule of touring and allowing us to create new work. It was carefully calculated to reflect what Northern Ballet needs to deliver ACE's ambition of great art for everyone.

'We have worked hard to become a successful organisation, even though it is widely accepted that we have always been an underfunded company. We have made our funding work very hard to maintain our high production values, create new ballets and sustain the breadth of our touring and our education work. 

'However these cuts will severely impact the potential achievements of the Company just as it embarks on a bold new future.  We won't be able to commission the new work for which we have an unrivalled reputation. Our reach through performing and learning will also be curtailed, and the towns and cities to which we tour will no longer benefit from the economic impact we bring.

'Previously, strong ticket sales in some of the venues on our national tours have helped to subsidise venues where sales are poorer.  We will now have to cut weaker venues from our tours altogether, which will mean that some UK theatres may no longer receive any classical ballet performances.   

'We know there is a demand for our work and great interest in the Company. More than 2,200 people attended our open day in January, our classes are full, our performances on tour are busy and applications for our Academy are the highest they have ever been.

'Northern Ballet has previously received 57% of its income through public funding. Our audiences are tremendously loyal and supportive of the Company and we will depend on them now more than ever to help us generate an income with which to continue into the future.'

Northern Ballet is a uniquely prolific company, creating 10 new full-length ballets in the past 10 years, more than any other British ballet company. It also tours to more UK venues than any other company in the country. Over the past four years Northern Ballet has given over 650 performances in the UK, performing to more than half a million people during approximately 100 weeks of touring across 17 different venues. The Company's national tours encompass venues around the country that do not have the cultural offer available in the UK's major cities. The Company has also toured overseas to China (twice), Milan, Miami, Barcelona, Beijing, Bangkok and Macau. 

Northern Ballet's extensive programme of participatory activity for people of all ages and abilities ensures that the Company makes an important and valued contribution to its communities, both in Leeds and on tour.  Northern Ballet's education department works with schools and community groups and has reached over 70,000 people through schools workshops, community dance activities, touch tours and work with visually impaired people. It has delivered 100 free school road shows to more than 12,000 primary school children and has worked internationally, leading work with young learning disabled people in China for three consecutive years.

The Northern Ballet Academy was the first Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) for classical dance in the UK providing young people from across the North with a pathway to a professional career in dance.

The announcement of such a significant funding cut from ACE means the Company will have to seriously curtail its work in providing opportunities for people everywhere to have access to excellence in dance performance and participation.

Read Arts Council England's response.

Download press release.

*Northern Ballet received £3.3million in total from Arts Council England in 2010/11 combining core grant and sustain funding. We feel this is a true reflection of the income required for Northern Ballet to successfully continue to create new work and maintain touring levels. Therefore today's announcement that we will receive £2.5million in 2012/13 is to us a direct cut of £800,000 or 25% based on what we actually received in 2010/11 and is a true reflection of our funding situation.

The views expressed in blogs are those of the author and not necessarily of Northern Ballet.