Campaign gathers pace

PUBLISHED: 09:17 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 08:46 10 June 2010

Throughout East Devon the campaign to save the area s only fully professional theatre is gathering pace.

Throughout East Devon the campaign to save the area's only fully professional theatre is gathering pace. Supporters, aghast at the possibility that the Northcott will close, are mounting demonstrations, gathering signatures for a petition and writing to the Arts Council in disbelief that it could withdraw a grant that is the lifeblood of the theatre.

For long the grant making policies of the Arts Council have been a mystery and even a source of derision among those who struggle to mount artistic events. Its policy of supporting 'way out' projects, some of which are beyond the comprehension of the normal mortal, have encouraged incredulity among those fighting to provide the more recognisable arts.

ACE (Arts Council England) claims that it is planning to invest in excellence and remove money from those not coming up to scratch. Included in the latter category are other such famous theatres as the Bristol Old Vic, the Yvonne Arnaud at Guildford, and orchestras such as the London Sinfonia.

The Northcott's loyal East Devon following find the description of their theatre as not 'coming up to scratch' as incomprehensible. It provides high quality shows for everyone, from leading drama, entertainment for children, opera and ballet to comedy, chamber music recitals and a stage for leading amateur bodies like those from the University.

Last week more than 200 of Britain's leading actors, actresses and musicians, including such names as Sir Ian McKellen, Felicity Kendall, Joanna Lumley and Caroline Quentin, faced the council's chief executive over the issue of the Northcott and other theatres and he was left with no doubt as to their feeling. Broadcaster Jeremy Vine, after seeing the Northcott's current pantomime, was so appalled at the proposals that he featured the theatre's case in his regular radio show.

There is still time for anyone interested in the future of the theatre to send expressions of support to the Save Northcott Campaign, Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QB.

John Dalton

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