Future of local theatre under threat

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Concerns over the future of Longford’s Backstage Theatre are growing this week after a further cut in funding.

The much-loved theatre has been in receipt of Arts Council Funding since its inception in April 1995, however this year’s 10 per cent cut in funds means that over the past five years, the arts facility has incurred a devastating financial hit of 44 per cent.

Speaking to the Leader, Mona Considine, General Manager, Backstage Theatre said that the cuts in funding over the past five years had brought with them many difficulties.

“Although cost-cutting measures and changes in programming implemented by management did help to keep things afloat since cuts in funding were first applied in 2008, this year’s 10 per cent cut has totally brought us to a level of funding that will make it very difficult to operate”, she added.

Ms Considine said that, since funding cuts were first applied Backstage had struggled to book new and less well-known work, because, with such a low budget , management could not take risks with productions that might not achieve a box office return.

“However, Backstage has continued to provide an opportunity for people locally to see work from Druid, The Abbey and many singer songwriters as well as for community groups, drama groups and schools throughout the county to perform,” she continued. “Unfortunately this latest cut will make it more difficult to sustain even this programme. It is really important now that we maintain and grow audiences - if people don’t come to see the performances, we will operate at a loss.”

Ms Considine agreed that she now had concerns about the future of the theatre.

“We need a certain amount of money to operate and right now we do not have that money.

“The theatre was put there by the people of Longford. It was built and supported by Longford people.

“We are now asking those same people to help us to hold onto their theatre, by supporting us as an audience and in our call for funding both nationally and locally,” she conclulded.

Backstage Theatre opened its doors in April 1995.




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