Thursday, 20 December 2007

Save our Puppet Theatre - Norwich Puppet Theatre under threat

I read in The Independent about the Arts Council cutting funding for many organisations, including all of the fudning it gives to the Norwich Puppet Theatre. You can read the Atrs Council Chief Executive's comment on the reasons behind the cuts here.

There are only 2 of these puppet theatres in the country and we have been looking forward to taking our son there when he is a bit older and able to appreciate it. Here's a bit of background about this innovative use of the old church of St James Pockthorpe.
The cut is £60,000 and represents about 35% of the Theatre's funding. As this Evening News article says, not surprisingly, the staff are shocked.

What is the world coming to that we devalue such things so easily, not least in the run up to Christmas when they are most likely to be popular and visited by many families?

This isn't some rubbish outfit. The theatre is a part of the community, and is a custodian for an art form and profession for the whole of the country. It even runs courses and workshops via the Norfolk Adult Education programme.

Proof of the regard in which this theatre is held at a local level can be seen by the support received by Norwich and Norfolk Councils. Why is the national importance going to be ignored?
The Arts Council is looking to support excellence, and yet they do not recognise the clear importance of Norwich Puppet Theatre.

The theatre acts as an Ambasador for the UK both abroad in touring in countries like Finland, Spain, Mexico and Canada, and as a host to touring companies from overseas.

Through the art of puppetry, the young can have their minds and imaginations opened to different ideas and cultures from around the world.

At a time when anti-social behaviour is seemingly on the increase and we are told that government is spending tax-payers money on preventative schemes to provide more effective, long term solutions, why are we trying to kill off Norwich Puppet Theatre when it has the potential to educate children and their families about the world beyond East Anglia and the UK, and perhaps foster greater understanding and tolerance?
Shame on the Arts Council.

No doubt their big favourite theatres in London that receive support won't suffer.

Norwich Puppet Theatre has a Friends scheme, which I will try to find out about and will post the details.
You can find out more about becoming a Friend of Norwich Pupprt Theatre here.
Even if you do not leave locally, you can still, like me, feel strongly about the need to keep places like this going for the benefit of UK culture, and could still become a Friend.
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