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Nearly 1,000 sign petition to preserve funds for Pegasus
ALMOST 900 people have signed a petition against cuts to Pegasus Theatre in just over 48 hours.
The community theatre in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, which supports about 5,000 young people in performing arts projects, currently receives a £68,266 annual grant from the county council.
But as part of its cuts programme the council is proposing to reduce the grant from April 2015.
There would be a cut of £22,755 in 2015/2016 and a further cut of the same amount in 2016/2017, representing an overall cut of two thirds, nearly 67 per cent, over two years.
Artistic director Jonathan Lloyd is urging the council to reduce the grant from £68,266 to £45,511, a cut of 33 per cent.
Mr Lloyd said: “We recognise the huge pressures on the county council’s budget over the coming years and accept the need for cuts, but a reduction at such a level would have a devastating and disproportional impact on our core programme.
“People have been logging on to our website to get the link to the e-petition and it shows great support to get so many signatures in such a short time – we only set this up on Tuesday afternoon. We work with over 5,000 young people aged six to 19 and this year we had 48 referrals from the education service of young people who are excluded or at risk of exclusion.
“We offer a lifeline for young people and they can get involved in drama, including performing, writing, the technical aspects, or work in the cafe or front-of-house.
“Some people think the arts are just a fluffy extra but we see ourselves as both a social service and an educational service and if the council invests in us we can save them money in the long-term.”
Mr Lloyd said the theatre, which has been a registered charity for over 50 years, and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, has a turnover of about £800,000 a year.
He added it receives a grant of £300,000 a year from Arts Council England and £25,000 a year from the city council.
Chemistry student Zak Khan, 19, from Oxford, who got involved with the theatre in the early 2000s, wrote on the theatre’s Facebook page: “This place was a home from home and an incredible place to grow up in – it would be a travesty to let these cuts go ahead.”
In 2011-2012, the county council grant to Pegasus was £113,777 but fell the next year by 40 per cent to the current funding level of £68,266.
The e-petition, which had 892 signatures at 12.30pm yesterday, runs until January 10 and the theatre does not have specific target for signatures.
Cabinet member for cultural services Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said the council would work with Pegasus Theatre to help it access other funding sources.
- To sign the petition visit www.pegasustheatre.org.uk
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