‘Cuts will have huge effect on arts and on their work in the community’

Iain Barr (right) with the rest of the team at Waterside Theatre.
Iain Barr (right) with the rest of the team at Waterside Theatre.

The Waterside Theatre has been asked to demonstrate how it would achieve savings of £13,000 from the £130,000 it was allocated for this year from the Arts Council.

Iain Barr, Waterside Theatre Chief Executive, said making savings in the present climate seemed near impossible.

Mr Barr said funding has already been at a standstill for four to five years, meaning pay freezes, and in effect, a cut of around 15% in expenditure.

“to be perfectly honest, it is very, very difficult to look at where you can make efficiency savings at the minute. Organisations such as our own, we are run with a skeleton, core staff of six and the budget we get from the Arts Council is used to pay our staff. We have absolutely no meat on our staffing levels at all.

“If you start to cut at that core you are cutting into how you are running an organisation effectively.”

Mr Barr went on to say that it was not just the theatre end of the organisation’s work that would be harmed if there were cuts imposed, but also the work the Waterside Theatre was doing in the community.

“The arts budget is so incredibly small in terms of the overall budget, it is absolutely a drop in the ocean compared to the budgets the Health and Education secotrs get, but it will have a huge effect on arts organisation and what they are doing in the community.

“We run programmes for older people in care homes, we run programmes for young people with severe disabilities, and young people across the city who come from a background of economic disadvantage. These are the people that need it the most and that benefit the most from it, particuarly kids with disabilities or from economically challenged areasa- it is a huge knock-on effect with their work in school and with their confidence so this is already making a contribution to the education sector, as well as the health sector for disabled children and older people. The work crosses over.”

Speaking about the in-year potential budget cuts, Mr Barr said: “Now all the plans we set out in April for the year will be affected but we are not unique in that at all.”